One Requires; Two Consider

A couple of links I thought I’d pass along.

WJZ-TV reports [story here] the Talbot County Council approved a bill requiring sprinklers in new, and significantly renovated homes. The sprinkler requirement in renovations will be phased.

Under the bill, sprinklers will be required as of March 1 in new one-and two-family homes. They’ll be required in existing homes undergoing construction or renovation of more than 65 percent of the home until July 2009. After that date it will be required for renovations of more than half of a home.”

The other two links are to articles where jurisdictions are considering a residential fire sprinkler requirement.

The first is from CBS-47 in Fresno, CA [story here].

County Supervisor Henry Perea is proposing a new code to require sprinklers in all new construction in Fresno County including homes. Local firefighter officials claim the sprinklers save lives and would make a huge difference in rural areas where a fire response can take up to 20 minutes.

It’s hard to forget the tears of a grieving mother. In February Ana and Ruvi Escalante died in a house fire in the Fresno County area of Calwa. The tragedy affected the whole community.”

And finally, Hickory Hills in Southern Chicago is considering a sprinkler requirement in new and renovated homes. The story comes from Daily Southtown. Hickory Hills is doing their homework for sure;

Aldermen are discussing when it would be fair to make existing home owners, doing renovation or remodeling work, to install the devices.

‘If someone is gutting their house, tearing out all the dry wall, then I would have no problem having them install a sprinkling system,’ building commissioner Gordon Betcher said. ‘But not if a guy is just putting an extension on his house.’

‘We need to find a clear line of demarcation between a complete gutting and just an addition,’ Mayor Mike Howley said.

Ald. John Moirano (1st) said the city must establish a consistent policy and not leave the matter to the discretion of the building commissioner or future building commissioners.

‘We need a fair playing field,” Betcher said. ‘If new homes have to install sprinklers, then people totally rebuilding old houses have to do it, too.’

Some aldermen favor enforcing sprinkler installation if 50 percent or more square footage of a residence is being rebuilt. Others are considering measuring in dollars, making sprinklers mandatory if 25 percent or more in the reproduction cost of the house is spent in rebuilding. Both measures are being considered.”

News Clippings

Here are a couple of things I picked up off the “wire” tonight. I’m going to try this out every once-in-awhile to see how it goes. These posts will contain short descriptions of articles with a links to find them.

Restaurant owner Barry Walker got pro-active and installed a sprinkler system in his business. Now, a lawmaker is proposing tax breaks for others to do the same. “Lawmaker Wants Businesses to Install Sprinklers.” [WLTX-TV 19; Columbia, SC]

Jurisdiction considers rescinding sprinkler requirement in new homes. “Huntley May Snuff Out Fire Sprinklers.” [Daily Herald; McHenry County, Illinois]

Fire Displaces Multiple Businesses

Fire destroyed a 75 year old building in Alhambra, California. The 12,000 square foot structure contained 14 businesses and did not have sprinklers because it was built in 1932 well before any sprinkler requirements. [signonsandiego.com]

This is a perfect example of the importance of retrofits in older buildings with multiple businesses. Because of an accident in one, all 14 are now displaced looking for another home. This won’t kill the economy in a place like LA but it for sure affects those businesses and the people that make their livings working there. Unfortunately, the proverbial hands are tied. It’s up to landlords and owners to take the initiative to protect themselves.

Warehouse Fire In Bartow; Arson

The warehouse fire in Bartow, Florida that I posted about on Saturday has been ruled arson according to the Ledger Online. Information is unavailable regarding whether the sprinkler system was tampered with however, it is part of the investigation that is ongoing. From the article;

[Kevin] Shireman [Detective; Fire Marshall’s Office] said it was evident where the fire started and its cause.
Investigators also are continuing to examine a fire at the PrecisionAire plant on July 2, which state officials also have ruled arson. Shireman said the only parallels between the two fires, though, is they both occurred in the evening.”

Two Sprinkler Saves Before Total Loss

Fire destroyed a warehouse in Bartow, Florida. The weird thing about this is that the warehouse was equipped with fire sprinklers that successfully controlled two other blazes preceding the total loss. According to the article in the Ledger Online;

It’s the third time in as many months that fire inspectors have been to PrecisionAire at 100 N. Crown Ave. The first two incidents, on April 18 and July 2, destroyed air filters ready for shipment but did minimal damage to the building, according to fire reports. Both fires were still under investigation when Tuesday’s blaze broke out.

The rash of fires has led investigators to consider arson as they continue looking into the cause of this blaze, said Lt. Brandon Ball of the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

The company’s overhead sprinklers kept the first two fires in check until firefighters got to the scene, and a supervisor on duty Tuesday night said the sprinklers activated in this instance as well, it just wasn’t enough.”

I doubt I’ll ever be privy to the information regarding the design of the system but it would be interesting to find out if the sprinkler system was designed to proper densities for the storage height etc. The article also mentions that the two previous sprinkler saves spurred fire officials to inspect the property and order some modifications to the sprinkler system. I’ll keep my eye out for follow up on this story.

Hotel Burn; Tampa, Florida

A hotel that was still under construction burned in Tampa, Florida on Friday. Sprinklers that had been installed and tested in the structure were not yet fully functional according to the report.

I’m assuming the FDC was not yet connected because the story makes it sound as if the fire department’s hands were tied until the roof burned through and vented itself after fire fighters were evacuated.

Hillsborough Fire Rescue spokesman Ray Yeakley told FOX 13 that when crews arrived at the scene, there were flames coming from the roof of the hotel. Crews were battling the fire from the inside until winds began pushing the flames through the building, and it had to be evacuated in what he called a “code red” situation.

Sprinklers were no help to firefighters in this case. According to Yeakley, the building’s sprinkler system was installed and tested, but it was not yet fully functional.

Without sprinklers or crews on the inside, firefighters found their options limited after evacuating the building.

‘Roofs do what they’re supposed to do — they repel water,’ Yeakley explained. ‘Unfortunately, since we’re no longer inside attacking the fire, it actually will hit that roof and run off. So it’s going to take us a long time for it to actually be able to vent itself, and then be able to extinguish the fire.'”

The story from the Fox affiliate in Tampa includes aerial footage of the fire.