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Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial: Require Sprinklers in All State Buildings

A June 3rd staff editorial from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper calls for all state buildings to be protected by fire sprinklers following a May 16 fire on the upper levels of General Executive Facility 1 (GEF-1) in Madison.

Initial damage estimates were initially set at $350,000 but later jumped up to $15 million after considering the costs of cleaning up smoke damage to the building and its contents, retrieving files, relocating employees, repairing the ventilation system, and repairing fire damage on the upper levels where the fire occurred.

Because the building was built in 1972 before fire sprinklers were mandated by law, there were no sprinklers on the upper floors, only on the lower floors and in the parking garage.

The newspaper editorial agreed with Madison Fire Marshal Ed Ruckriegel, who stated, “With fire sprinklers, damage would have been limited to a few thousand dollars. No one would have missed work.”

“We need to consider what’s better. Either we pay the money out front and have zero loss or have something like this happen and we all lose out,” added Ruckriegel. See Ruckriegel’s comments following the fire.

Although no one was injured in the fire, the editorial poses the questions that many people are wondering, “What if next time someone is injured or, worse, what if people die? Will it be an acceptable excuse to say that the building preceded the new law?”

Read the entire Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial.

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