TICK TOCK – TIME IS RUNNING OUT TO OPT-OUT OF THE FIRE SPRINKLER REQUIREMENT

Let’s narrow the issues right off the bat.  You only need to keep reading if your building is 75 feet or more in height, measured from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access to the floor level of the highest occupiable story.  If your condominium does not fit into this category, if you already have an engineered life safety system or if you already opted-out properly, sleep well.   You don’t have to install a fire sprinkler system in your condominium.

If you do fit into this category, you are required to install a fire sprinkler system in the condominium property unless you opt out by December 31st.  Florida Statute 718.112 states:

 

Notwithstanding chapter 633 or of any other code, statute, ordinance, administrative rule, or regulation, or any interpretation of the foregoing, an association, residential condominium, or unit owner is not obligated to retrofit the common elements, association property, or units of a residential condominium with a fire sprinkler system in a building that has been certified for occupancy by the applicable governmental entity if the unit owners have voted to forego such retrofitting by the affirmative vote of a majority of all voting interests in the affected condominium. The local authority having jurisdiction may not require completion of retrofitting with a fire sprinkler system before January 1, 2020. By December 31, 2016, a residential condominium association that is not in compliance with the requirements for a fire sprinkler system and has not voted to forego retrofitting of such a system must initiate an application for a building permit for the required installation with the local government having jurisdiction demonstrating that the association will become compliant by December 31, 2019.

           

            As you can see, you only have a few more months to opt out.  Miss the deadline and the sprinkler requirement will apply to you with no ability to opt-out.  In order to avoid the expense, many associations vote to opt-out.  That decision is yours.  However, I have been told by high ranking Fire Department personnel in Broward County that in the history of the State of Florida, not a single person has ever died in a building that was equipped with a fire sprinkler system, as a result of a fire.  If you still want to opt-out, here is how you do it:

A vote to forego retrofitting may be obtained by limited proxy or by a ballot personally cast at a duly called membership meeting, or by execution of a written consent by the member, and is effective upon recording a certificate attesting to such vote in the public records of the county where the condominium is located. The association shall mail or hand deliver to each unit owner written notice at least 14 days before the membership meeting in which the vote to forego retrofitting of the required fire sprinkler system is to take place. Within 30 days after the association’s opt-out vote, notice of the results of the opt-out vote must be mailed or hand delivered to all unit owners. Evidence of compliance with this notice requirement must be made by affidavit executed by the person providing the notice and filed among the official records of the association. After notice is provided to each owner, a copy must be provided by the current owner to a new owner before closing and by a unit owner to a renter before signing a lease.

 

            Even if you opt out, this does not prevent the local fire marshall from requiring the condominium to install an engineered life safety system.  This could include any or all of the following:

  1. Partial automatic fire sprinkler system;
  2. Smoke detection system;
  3. Smoke control system;
  4. Compartmentation;
  5. Other approved systems.

 

So……to those of you who this applies to…… are you going to opt out to save money or install sprinklers to potentially save lives?

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