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Town Board Recognizes Importance of Fire Sprinklers and Amends Ordinance

When Fire Chief Dave Bloom approached the Town of Madison board to amend an ordinance for retrofitting existing buildings with fire sprinklers, an unfortunate situation occurred a few hours later that affirmed the need for fire sprinkler protection.

Approximately six hours after a town board meeting at which Chief Bloom first approached the board with the recommendation to amend the town’s fire sprinkler ordinance and include sprinkler protection in certain remodeling situations, a woman perished in a fire in her apartment unit in an unprotected multifamily building.

Action was taken at the next board meeting to approve Chief Bloom’s recommendations, amending the existing ordinance.

“We have over 640 unsprinklered multifamily units in that neighborhood where the fire death occurred. They will now become protected with fire sprinklers as they change ownership and as remodels occur,” says Chief Bloom.

The added language to the amended ordinance requires retrofitting any building types, including multifamily residential buildings, with fire sprinklers when the value of the remodeling exceeds 25% of the assessed value. The previous language required a fire sprinkler system retrofit only when the remodeling exceeded 50% of the total area. “That allowed way too much latitude,” states Chief Bloom.

In addition, the State’s adoption of the 2006 International Building Code (IBC), which promotes the safety of occupants and preservation of the building property, was made effective on January 1, 2011, and requires the installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems in all newly constructed multifamily dwellings of three units and greater.

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