Why register? ...To Enhance Your Experience
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Post Florida--Sprinkler Laws Under Fire by Builders

    ST PETERSBURG TIMES--State Section


    Fire safety law raises objections

    Condo builders are required to do expensive retrofitting.
    [/i]hters say it's necessary for residents' safety. [/i]

    By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 5, 2003


    TALLAHASSEE -- When a new law took effect last year requiring that older highrise buildings install fire sprinklers, Glenn Caudell grudgingly accepted the cost.

    He and his neighbors spent nearly $100,000 for sprinklers in common areas, new fire doors and a second alarm system at the 15-story, Prelude 80 condominiums in Clearwater.

    To fully comply by the deadline in 2014, however, they must spend another $150,000 on sprinklers for each of the 53 units.

    "Why wasn't that thought of years ago?" asked Caudell, president of the building's condominium association. "Thousands of condominiums in Florida and they are all being imposed upon to spend a lot of money. That's why there is the resentment."

    The expense has prompted Florida lawmakers to consider easing a 1998 law aimed at protecting highrise residents and firefighters.

    The law applies to buildings at least 75 feet high. If sprinklers are not installed by 2014, owners could face fines and condemnation. Since the early 1990s all new highrise buildings were required to have sprinklers.

    Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, are sponsoring legislation to allow condo associations to sidestep the requirement with a two-thirds vote of members.

    It's a property rights issue, they say.

    Firefighters call it crazy and point to last year's Dolphin Cove fire in Clearwater that killed two people, injured two residents and five firefighters and caused extensive property damage.

    Fire officials say the massive destruction from the June 28 fire, caused by a stove fire, could have been avoided if the 11-story building had sprinklers.

    "A single head sprinkler could have extinguished the fire, or at least kept it to one room," said Clearwater fire marshal Randy Hinder. "As far as the proposed legislation, we are very concerned about it in the fire service."

    Mack, who represents an area with many highrise buildings, said homeowners understand that risk and should have a choice.

    He compared condominiums retrofitted with sprinklers to a Volvo, considered among the safest automobiles. If the state can require expensive fire safety standards, Mack wonders why the state also doesn't require everyone to drive a Volvo.

    "We don't require them to upgrade," Mack said. "We leave those decisions up to people."

    Lynn said firefighters have taken the law to an extreme, creating a cottage industry for sprinkler contractors.

    Mack's bill (HB 165) has been approved by two House committees and is likely to reach the floor soon.

    A Senate committee postponed taking a vote last week on Lynn's (SB 1978) bill. The committee did vote down an amendment by Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Fort Lauderdale, that would have subjected the homeowner's vote to local fire department approval. The committee takes the bill up again Monday.

    "The question comes down to whether or not safety is more important than the particular cost of retrofitting," said Campbell, who opposes the change.

    Fire officials say lawmakers should listen to Campbell.

    "It's a joke," said Dan Goff, fire marshal for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

    National firefighter associations say there have never been multiple deaths from fires in buildings with sprinkler systems.

    Firefighters say they face a higher risk of injury or death in highrise buildings without sprinklers. Condo owners who decide against sprinklers merely shift the cost to fire departments, they say.

    "How can legislators sworn to protect the health and safety of their communities do this?" Hinder asked. "Where is their ethical beliefs? How can they sleep at night and pass this stuff? I've seen what happens when you have a highrise fire."

    So has Rep. John Carassas, R-Belleair, who represents part of Clearwater. He supports Mack's bill.

    "To say a homeowner is not capable of making a decision to protect their property is a mistake," Carassas said. "I think the firefighters have the responsibility to educate them."

    Caudell, 72, understands the risk. He can see Dolphin Cove from his third-floor window two miles away.

    But firefighters also encountered a dry hydrant fighting that fire, he pointed out, and that delayed dousing the flames. Some experts concluded the department made mistakes that contributed, too.

    Caudell said many residents feel pressure to comply. "A lot of them feel that the fire department here has become really enthusiastic about everybody and their brother having sprinklers everywhere because of the Dolphin Cove fire," Caudell said. "A lot of firefighters got injured, but a lot was wrong, too."

    The Prelude 80 condominium association sold a unit in the building to raise money for the first wave of sprinklers. Adding sprinklers to individual units could cost each homeowner up to $3,000. They might have to raise that through an assessment.

    Many would like the law repealed.

    "This building is 27 years old and has never had a fire," Caudell said. "I think, personally, we have a very good fire prevention system now."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Posts
    1,143

    Default

    Ontario has one of the strictest Fire Codes in North America, including a comprehensive retrofit section for high rise and low rise occupancies, assembly and care and treatment or boarding and lodging homes. Each and every one of those codes is written in blood. The blood of a man, woman or child or the blood of a firefighter that has died as the result of a fire.

    "Mack, who represents an area with many highrise buildings, said homeowners understand that risk and should have a choice."

    Maybe we should reword this to say.....
    "Firefighters understand the risk of unsprinklered highrise buildings and should have the choice of whether to enter and search and rescue or not" Wonder if that would change some tunes?

  3. #3
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Post

    Palm Beach Post

    Tuesday, April 8

    Senate panel OKs no-sprinkler bill


    By Marc Caputo, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, April 8, 2003

    TALLAHASSEE -- A Senate committee Monday voted to allow most condominiums to choose to exempt themselves from a state fire code requiring fire sprinklers in common areas by 2014.

    The Senate bill would allow a condo community to exempt itself with a two-thirds vote of its governing board. To keep the exemption, the board would have to revote every two years.

    The Senate bill resembles a House proposal sponsored by Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Lauderdale. The House bill would allow all existing condos to exempt themselves, whereas the Senate bill includes an amendment by Sen. Ron Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, that would still require high-rises over 75 feet to get the sprinklers by 2014.

    Fire department officials and the insurance industry oppose both bills, saying sprinklers save lives. But sponsor Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said it is necessary because of the high cost of retrofitting buildings with sprinklers.

    The Senate's Comprehensive Planning Committee approved the bill 6-2. It now goes to the Banking and Insurance Committee.

    When one fire marshal said the bill was the result of "special interest" lobbying, it annoyed Geller, who said very few people died in condo fires in Florida in 2002.

    "The only special interest are my voters," said Geller, who sponsored the mollifying amendment. "You might want to choose your words a little more closely."

    marc_caputo@pbpost.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  4. #4
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Post Testimony

    Here is another article that I just found. It speaks for itself.

    ____________

    THE LEDGER

    HAINES CITY
    Ceiling Sprinkler Puts Out Stove Fire

    An automatic sprinkler system kicked on and doused a grease fire on the top of a stove at the Palm Ridge Apartment Complex on Tuesday before firefighters even got to the scene.

    Grease to fry some potatoes caught fire in a second floor apartment at the complex at 201 Ledwith Ave.

    Once the grease caught fire and reached 155 degrees, the ceiling sprinkler turned on and doused the flames, said Haines City Deputy Fire Chief Lonnie Large.

    No one was injured in the kitchen fire and the apartment only sustained minor heat damage to the paint on the walls. An apartment on the first floor had some water damage.

    Building owner Bill Croslow, who has owned the building, built in 1917, since 1997, said he estimated the damage to be less than $500.

    Large said it only took firefighters about three minutes to get to the complex, but the fire was already out.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Posts
    1,143

    Default

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh, the ignorant and the uneducated leading the masses. Oh well, done deal.

    "When one fire marshal said the bill was the result of "special interest" lobbying, it annoyed Geller, who said very few people died in condo fires in Florida in 2002."

    One preventable death in a condo fire or any kind of fire is too many.
    Maybe there are still ways to force compliance? Maybe the insurance industry could quadruple the rates for those who "opt out". Maybe the Fire Department should institute a "No enter" policy for those who chose to "opt out" These people should face ramifications of their choice. They were the ones who pushed for choice, now give them a few options to choose from.

  6. #6
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,673

    Unhappy

    You can see the story in the future...

    "Residents found a little surprise upon returning to their condo's after voting to not install sprinklers. Residents are required to vote every 2 years to allow them to not have sprinklers installed. While out voting, their condo caught on fire, possibly due to a cigarrette left on a couch or food left on a stove. Residents remarked, we were only gone for about 20 minutes, and now this, our whole apartment is gone, everything that was important in my life is gone! How can anyone let this happen? When asked by reporters as to why they voted against the sprinklers, they said it would have cost them $3000 and that was just not worth the risk, after all...they never had a fire in their building before. Damage estimates are in the area of $300,000."

    Yup, that's about how the story will play out....
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Posts
    3,120

    Default

    These are not homeowners.

    They are part owners of a residential highrise and should be held to the same standards.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts