Mass. sprinkler law compliance spotty
BOSTONÃ¢â‚¬â€The Nov. 15 deadline for compliance with the Massachusetts Fire Safety Act has passed and, according to a study done by the Boston Globe, compliance appears to be low in this city. However, fire industry officials and others point out that the legislation is a step in the right direction.
The Globe study showed that 283 Boston establishments originally fell under the August 2004 law, which requires any nightclub or bar with a capacity of 100 people to install automatic sprinklers.
According to the Globe, 22 venues installed sprinklers by the deadline, 109 earned waivers by Ã¢â‚¬Å“finding ways around the requirementÃ¢â‚¬Â and 85 others waited until the last minute to obtain 30- to 60-day extensions. The law was passed after similar legislation was enacted in Rhode Island following the 2003 Station Nightclub fire, which killed 100 people.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s progress,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Dominick Kasmauskas, Northeast regional manager for the National Fire Sprinkler Association.
The bottom line for sprinkler advocates, Kasmauskas pointed out, is that this law means many more places Ã¢â‚¬Å“are sprinklered than would have been otherwise.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He said it would be important for officials to Ã¢â‚¬Å“follow up on the contractsÃ¢â‚¬Â for the 85 establishments that got extensions to ensure that they do install the sprinkler systems.
Sprinkler legislation is a hard sell, said Massachusetts State Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton), who has sponsored legislation for several sessions that would require sprinklers to be installed in commercial establishments larger than 7,500 square feet.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We need more voices demanding the requirement of life-safety equipment in these buildings,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.