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  • NFPA votes for tighter sprinkler requirements

    QUINCY, Mass. (AP) - A National Fire Protection Association
    committee voted Tuesday to recommend that sprinklers be required in
    smaller buildings, in hopes of preventing a disaster like the Rhode
    Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people, including several
    from Connecticut.
    The NFPA's Technical Committee on Assembly Occupancies voted to
    strengthen the NFPA's recommended fire code to suggest that
    sprinklers be installed in new places of assembly - defined as
    having capacities of 50 people or more. The committee also will
    recommend sprinklers in some existing buildings with capacities of
    100 people or more.
    The emergency changes to NFPA's Life Safety Code, which has been
    adopted in one form or another by more than 30 states, would apply
    only to nightclubs, discotheques, dance halls, bars and venues with
    festival seating.
    The current recommendations issued by the NFPA suggest
    sprinklers in buildings with a capacity of 300 or more.
    A formal balloting process will take place over the next weeks,
    and committee members will explain their votes. The vote will be
    considered by the NFPA's Standards Council at a meeting next week
    in Portland, Ore.
    Tuesday's meeting convened one day after Rhode Island enacted
    what state leaders called the toughest sprinkler requirements in
    the nation for nightclubs and other businesses.
    Rhode Island's new fire-safety code, prompted by a February
    blaze at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., requires that
    sprinklers be installed by July 2006 in nightclubs that serve
    alcohol and have occupancies of at least 150 people. Other places
    of assembly with occupancies of 300 or more are required to install
    sprinklers by July 2005.
    The building that housed The Station nightclub did not have fire
    sprinklers.
    Paul Wertheimer, a Chicago-based crowd management specialist who
    testified in May before a Rhode Island commission investigating the
    fire, said stricter sprinkler codes are necessary, despite the
    costs.
    "I think that's something we need to get used to," said
    Wertheimer, a member of the committee. "...There should be a price
    to pay for safety."
    The nonprofit NFPA, which has no enforcement power, has been
    reviewing fire codes dealing with issues such as automatic fire
    sprinkler protection, interior finish and decorations and building
    exits.
    The Quincy-based group's model codes and standards have
    incorporated lessons learned from significant fires. The group said
    its recommendations have stimulated fire code reforms nationwide.
    Jake Pauls, a Silver Spring, Md.-based building safety
    consultant, said support for sprinklers in smaller buildings was a
    significant change from March, when the committee heard testimony
    from people affected by The Station fire.
    At that time, there was a lot of resistance to changing the
    sprinkler provision, Pauls said.
    But now, after letting the information sink in, "there aren't
    too many defenders of 300 anymore," he said. "... They've had
    some time to think about it."

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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  • #2
    Jake Pauls, a Silver Spring, Md.-based building safety
    consultant, said support for sprinklers in smaller buildings was a
    significant change from March, when the committee heard testimony
    from people affected by The Station fire.
    At that time, there was a lot of resistance to changing the
    sprinkler provision, Pauls said.
    But now, after letting the information sink in, "there aren't
    too many defenders of 300 anymore," he said. "... They've had
    some time to think about it."
    This is great, but wouldn't it be nice just once if all the "experts" on these committees were "proactive" instead of "reactive"?

    Every major change in the fire codes over the past century has been a reaction to a disaster instead of utilizing science and research to stop these tragedies before it happens.

    For example, is there anyone in the fire service that, given the pre-fire scenario of a nightclub similar to the Station, would not have been able to predict what would happen with and without sprinklers?
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

    Comment


    • #3
      Unfortunately George, after reading some of the posts on the threads involving sprinklers, I would bet there are FF's that still don't realize sprinklers are good things and what they can do.
      "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

      Comment


      • #4
        George, I think with a CORRECTLY designed and installed sprinkler system the fire in RI possibly could have been controlled. I kind of remember seeing the fire on the news; and it did start extremely fast. With ESFR or Quick response sprinkler heads it should have done its job........maybe. Hard to say. NFPA is taking a step in the right direction but NFPA does not make laws, they make standards. Implementing more strict automatic sprinkler system standards is great but it can't stop there. After a system is in place it just does not set there. There is inspection, testing, and maintenance that is required. Speaking from experience, local AHJs really need to be more educated in sprinkler systems, Some miss a lot of mistakes that are caught later after the design has been approved. Just my opinion. Slowly making progress
        Shawn Clark
        Firefighter/Paramedic
        Tulsa Fire Dept. E-23 "C Platoon"
        I.A.F.F. Local 176
        Tulsa, OK

        Comment

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