The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) applauds the recent decision by Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida to veto HB 653, a bill dealing with requirements for retrofitting high-rise condominium buildings with fire sprinklers and other types of safety systems.
"Governor Scott's veto of HB 653 demonstrates the universal appeal of including fire sprinklers in new and retrofitted residential dwellings," said Frank Mortl III, CAE, President of AFSA. "His decision to improve the safety of occupants in high-rise buildings and ensure the greatest protection to the emergency responders who bravely conduct firefighting and rescue operations serves as an impactful example to all lawmakers faced with similar opportunities to enact positive fire and life safety measures."
In the letter announcing his veto of the bill, Governor Scott said, "This legislation extends the compliance deadline, once again, and allows condominium residents to opt out of both fire sprinklers and an ELSS, which creates an extremely dangerous environment for both residents and first responders responding in the event of an emergency."
High-rise buildings present several unique challenges not found in traditional low-rise buildings: longer egress times and distance, evacuation strategies, fire department accessibility, smoke movement, and fire control. It is estimated that high-rise buildings make up 3 percent of all reported structure fires. According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) study, an estimated 14,500 reported high-rise structure fires per year resulted in associated losses of 40 civilian deaths, 520 civilian injuries, and $154 million in direct property damage per year from 2009-2013.
Benefits of having an automatic fire sprinkler system in a building include:
- Sprinkler systems control and/or extinguish a fire any time: day or night.
- Immediate identification and control of a developing fire: Without an automatic sprinkler system, a room with a fire can reach flashover conditions within only a few minutes.
- Reduced heat and smoke damage: Significantly less heat and smoke will be generated when the fire is extinguished at an early stage.
- Reduced water damage: A single sprinkler will only discharge approximately 15 to 25 gallons per minute, while a hose and nozzle used by the fire department will put out up to 250 gallons per minute, approximately 10 to 15 times more water.
- Decreased insurance expenditure: Sprinkler controlled fires are less damaging than fires in non-sprinklered buildings. This results in lower insurance reimbursements. Insurance underwriters typically offer reduced premiums for properties with sprinkler protection.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association, (AFSA) is a non-profit, international association representing merit shop fire sprinkler contractors, dedicated to the educational advancement of its members and promotion of the use of automatic fire sprinkler systems. More information can be found by visiting firesprinkler.org.