BD Fire Chief Opposes Apartment Sprinkler Rule Change

8/21/17 – A state agency says it can no longer enforce a rule that requires fire sprinklers for apartment buildings with three to 20 units. And the attorney general’s office plans to write a formal opinion on whether it has to be thrown out. The Department of Safety and Professional Services tried dropping the rule earlier this year, but the agency did an about face once the word got out. Now, the Journal Sentinel says the department is citing a 2011 state law which says agencies cannot write and enforce rules stricter than what the law actually says — and the last law passed by the governor and Legislature called for sprinklers only in buildings with 20 or more units. Beaver Dam Fire Chief Alan Mannel says it is a bad idea not to have sprinkler systems inside apartments with less than 20 units. He says that it is indisputable that sprinklers are a proven life-saver and the only justification for scaling back the requirements is the cost. Mannel says this year’s fires at the Lakecrest Apartments are perfect examples of why sprinklers are needed in multi-unit dwellings. In the most recent fire, the chief says it would have been simple room and content fires that would have been controlled with the sprinkler system. He says with sprinklers, there would have been two families displaced instead of 16 and no residents and firefighters would have been injured. Mannel says he feels so strongly about the issue that if he were to build a new home today, he would have sprinklers system installed.