1. #1
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    Jul 2003

    Thumbs up Fire officials applaud nightclub sprinkler law

    Fire officials applaud nightclub sprinkler law

    By Jill Harmacinski and Andrew Hickey

    Staff writers

    Nightclubs that can hold 100 people or more have three years to install sprinkler systems under new fire safety legislation signed yesterday by Gov. Mitt Romney.

    Local fire officials applauded the law yesterday, but acknowledged that it will affect only a handful of area businesses. The bill was crafted in the wake of The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island, which killed 100 people -- 33 from Massachusetts.

    One business that will be affected by the law is The Baybridge Restaurant in Salem. The Bridge Street nightclub is licensed to hold 232 people and features live music and entertainment on weekends. It has no sprinkler system and under the new law will be required to install one, Salem Fire Capt. William Hudson said.


    "That's probably one of the more popular spots in Salem," he said. "There's no doubt about it that with sprinklers, no fire could really get started that could cause injuries or deaths."

    Hudson said it was unclear yesterday what other Salem businesses might be affected by the law.

    Peabody fire officials also couldn't say for sure how many city businesses will be forced to conform to the new regulations.

    For those clubs that are required to install sprinklers, the upgrade could be costly, Hudson said. Putting sprinklers in a new structure is much easier and a great deal cheaper than installing them in an older building, he said.

    Baybridge owner John Colantoni said his business plans to comply with the new state mandates despite the costs, but he said the law does not clearly define what constitutes a nightclub.

    "What exactly is the law?" he asked. "If they're going to make it a law, it should be consistent across the board to include all businesses. But if we do fall under the requirement, that's fine. We'll do what we have to do to make it safer. Our No. 1 concern is safety."

    'A lasting tribute'

    Aside from Salem and Peabody, most North Shore communities don't have any nightclubs that are large enough to fall under the new state guidelines.

    Nonetheless, Beverly Fire Chief Richard Pierce called the new law "wonderful and long overdue."

    Sprinkler systems "often prevent fires from getting out of hand." And with many communities, including Beverly, facing budget restrictions and layoffs, fire departments "need all the help we can get," he said.

    Under the new law, smaller nightclubs could be forced to install sprinklers if they are cited for exceeding occupancy limits twice in one year. The new law also creates criminal penalties for dangerous conditions found in public buildings or for individuals who violate state building or fire codes, resulting in injuries or death.

    There are no nightclubs in Danvers that fall under the new law. Still, Danvers Fire Lt. David Deluca said he thinks the new law was needed in the aftermath of The Station fire.

    "I do think it's a good idea to have the proper protection in these establishments, especially if they get overcrowded," he said. "Especially if we can avoid another tragic situation from happening."

    State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan yesterday called the new law "a lasting tribute" to The Station fire victims.

    According to the governor, the bill is the state's most sweeping fire safety legislation since nearly 500 people were killed in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub inferno in Boston 62 years ago.

    Information from the State House News Service was used to compile this article.

    Staff writer Jill Harmacinski can be reached at (978) 338-2652 or by e-mail at jharmacinski@ecnnews.com.

    Staff writer Andrew Hickey can be reached at (978) 338-2525 or by e-mail at ahickey@ecnnews.com.
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  2. #2
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    May 2000
    Memphis, TN


    I think NFPA 13 (Fire Sprinkler Code, for those of you unfamiliar) requires sprinklers in such occupancies. NFPA 101 should also have something about it as well.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2003
    Fairfield, CA


    stm4710, Do you have a link to the text of the legislation? I tried the MA State website but could only find the press release. I would like to see the actual text to properly evaluate the legislation. If the legislation is as good as it sounds (I've heard rumors to the contrary), it should serve as a model for other states. Thanks.

    Originally posted by engine1321
    I think NFPA 13 (Fire Sprinkler Code, for those of you unfamiliar) requires sprinklers in such occupancies. NFPA 101 should also have something about it as well.
    The 2003 Edition of NFPA 101 requires existing nightclubs (including bars, dance halls, discos, and assembliy occupoancies with festival seating) to be protected with sprinklers when the occupant load exceeds 100. New nightclubs (etc.) must be protected with sprinklers regardless of the occupant load. If a previous edition of NFPA 101 has been adopted, only new nightclubs (etc.) are required to be protected with sprinklers when the occupant load exceeds 300. Existing nightclubs - no requirement.

    B.T.W., NFPA 13 is NOT a CODE, it is a STANDARD. NFPA 13 does not require sprinklers to be installed in any occupancy.

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