Fire detection proponent watches university fire sprinkler bill

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

WASHINGTON--Proposed national legislation that would give financial incentives to colleges and universities that install life safety equipment is being closely watched by the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.
Introduced by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), the bill would provide matching funds for universities and colleges that install sprinklers. The funds would be filtered through the Department of Education.
"Under the Higher Education Act, Congress contributes millions of dollars through the Department of Education to universities and colleges," said John Chwat, director of government relations for NBFAA. "One way Congress can induce colleges and universities to comply is by giving or withholding money."
Chwat would like to see a requirement to install fire detection equipment added to this bill. He believes that the bill takes the right tact in attempting to tie federal funding to compliance with safety standards. The bill is still in committee, but he believes there will be some movement on this bill in the next year.
NBFAA's major initiative this year is to educate Congress about the life saving benefits of detection, the same way that fire suppression advocates have educated legislators about sprinklers in recent years. The safest scenario is to have both fire detection and suppression equipment professionally installed, Chwat said.
In addition to his efforts to get fire detection requirements included in pending bills, such as a bill that would require sprinklers in nursing homes, Chwat is working with members of Congress to propel new fire safety legislation.