New York fire sprinkler laws to help public, industry

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

PATTERSON, N.Y.—New fire sprinkler legislation signed into law this summer in New York state will not only protect the public but could lead to increased business and perhaps state licensing for sprinkler contractors, according to a National Fire Sprinkler Association spokesman.

“It’s a step forward,” Dominick Kasmauskas, New York regional manager for the NFSA, which is based here, said regarding the two new laws signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August.

One requires landlords to include prominent information in the leases they give prospective residential tenants on whether or not their rental premises have fire sprinkler systems. The other bill requires builders to give buyers of one and two-family homes information on the installation and maintenance of fire sprinkler systems.

Kasmauskas said, “There’s a brochure being prepared by the state fire administrator’s office in New York. It’s basically going to be a Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition pamphlet with New York contact information on it, and the builder is going to have to supply that to new home buyers as well as provide information about cost and contract with somebody to put the system in.”

According to news reports, Cuomo said when signing the legislation: “We have witnessed far too much senseless tragedy caused by avoidable fires. These new protections will give New Yorkers more information about the homes they choose to live in, which will allow them to make decisions on how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

Kasmauskas praised the governor’s comments, saying they’re helpful to the public and industry in getting the word out about fire sprinklers. “It’s clear he stands behind modern technology in fire safety,” Kasmauskas said.

He continued: “It’s a constant educational process for fire sprinkler systems, whether on the commercial or residential side, and I think more and more people are starting to listen to us and [realize that], rather than being a sub-trade, people are starting to recognize that the sprinkler industry has specific [expertise] and I hope that will help licensure come about.”

He explained that there is no licensing requirement for fire sprinkler contractors in New York State. “The scary thing is that untrained people, in other trades that are not knowledgeable in fire sprinkler work, … [think that] because they have a pickup truck and a pipe rack and a toolbox, they can go and do sprinklers.”

He said, “The NFSA has introduced licensure bills several times in the state of New York, fully backed by the fire sprinkler industry …but it hasn't gone anywhere.”

But he said there likely will be another attempt in 2015 to pass such a licensing measure. He’s hoping the new laws could help by creating more awareness of the fact that “where there are fire sprinklers, we need to make sure they’ve been competently designed, competently installed and are properly maintained per the New York state fire code.”