The Warrensburg, Missouri, City Council recently voted against requirements to sprinkler certain establishments, opting instead for alternatives that were deemed "as safe as sprinklers."
The council's decision would exempt certain, existing food-and-drink establishments with an occupancy load of 300 or more from installing fire sprinklers. Justin Burton, a consultant hired for one of the establishments told the Daily Star-Journal that adequate signs, lighting, and evacuation plans provide a "better level of safety." He added that the occupancy load requirement of 300 or more people was a "knee-jerk reaction" to code provisions that followed The Station Nightclub Fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, in 2003. The fire killed 100 people.
"While lighting, signs, and evacuation plans are great additions to fire safety in any establishment, they are in no way equal to, or serve as a replacement for, what a single sprinkler head can do in the event of a fire," sprinkler advocate Rob Feeney, who was injured in The Station fire, told NFPA. He also lost his then-fiancee in the fire. "Mr. Burton can also find that the cost of a single death or significant burn injury would far exceed the cost of a sprinkler system. Perhaps Mr. Burton should recommend a sign for patrons stating ... the reluctance ... to provide adequate and available life safety measures. Further, [these establishments] should also inform the patrons that it's the city councilors who are allowing this.
"The continued need for sprinkler requirements are based on the ongoing problem of preventable fire deaths that occur year after year. There's an opportunity ... to step up and be part of the solution."
Be part of the solution by joining Rob in advocating for fire sprinklers in whatever way possible. Also, hear more of Rob's story by watching this video: