Fire Sprinkler Retrofitting: The Next Chapter

Alexander_BarthetCPVC Class Action Litigation, CPVC Construction Defect Suit

Several months ago we told you about the then looming deadline for statutorily mandated fire sprinkler modifications to residential condominiums. The deadline for an affected association to opt out was December 31, 2016, and the deadline for completing any retrofits was December 31, 2019.

Condominium associations thought some relief, or even a reprieve from the 2019 deadline, might be available given legislation approved by the Florida House of Representatives. But Governor Scott vetoed that Bill, pointing to the recent London hi-rise fire which resulted in the deaths of dozens of residents. The Bill would have allowed condominium associations to delay the mandated 2019 sprinkler system retrofit in older buildings and to even opt out of such work if two-thirds of the residents voted against the retrofit. But that is not to be. The current law stands and the requirements for the installation of upgraded sprinklers or an engineered life safety system in affected condominiums by the end of 2019 remains in place.

Not affected are those buildings less than 75 feet tall and those built after 1994 when sprinklers became mandatory on all new construction.

State fire marshals and those in the fire protection business had petitioned the Governor to veto the Bill, arguing this was a life safety issue more than simply a monetary concern for condominium association board members charged with looking out for the interests of their residents.

So, as of now, those residential condominium associations that did not opt out of a retrofit of their fire sprinkler system by December 31, 2016  must retrofit their fire sprinklers by December 31, 2019. And even those associations that opted out may still be required to install partial sprinklers as current fire codes mandate that some form of engineered life safety system (ELSS) be in place – a requirement which cannot be waived.