Fire detection bill introduced

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

WASHINGTON-- A bill introduced by Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) would make government matching funds to pay for fire detection and other fire prevention technologies in housing available to colleges and universities.
H.R. 4460, hailed by the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association as one of the first to promote the professional installation of fire detection equipment, was trumpeted by Fossella at a December press conference.
Craig Donner, Fossella's press secretary, said the congressman sees a need for this bill in his district, which is home to three colleges. "We've had conversations with them about how to assist them to install fire technology. Our staff did research and found that the best way would be to create a matching grant."
The bill proposes a four-year, $12 million ($3 million per year) pilot project, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, that would award matching grants on a competitive basis to colleges for the professional installation of fire detection and other fire prevention technologies.
The bill, which is in the Education and Workforce Committee, already has three Congressional co-sponsors. "We're hoping through this bill to educate Congress about how important it is to focus on college fire safety and actually do something about this," said John Chwatt, NBFAA director of government relations. Between Jan. 2000 and April 30, 2005, 75 people were killed in student housing fires, according to the non-profit Center for Campus Fire Safety.
Chwatt hopes to find a Senate sponsor for the same bill before ISC West. In the meantime, the NBFAA is urging its members to get involved.
And one NBFAA member is urging others to get involved. Eddie Kesheski, of Statewide Fire on Staten Island N.Y. , hopes people outside of the fire industry--particularly parents of college students--will support the bill. "Now is the time for people to call their local congressional representatives and tell them they want the bill supported," he said.