The astonishing images of London's Grenfell Tower in flames--and the 80 deaths that followed--got the attention of Florida Governor Rick Scott. While sensitive to regulations, Scott couldn't turn a blind eye to the horror that unfolded, partly due to the building's lack of fire sprinklers. He quickly vetoed a bill that sailed through the state legislature that would once again delay installing fire sprinklers in certain residences.
"Safety issues are critically important, as they can be the difference between life or death," Scott said in a statement about his veto. "Fire sprinklers and enhanced life safety systems are particularly effective in improving the safety of occupants in high-rise buildings and ensure the greatest protection of the emergency responders who bravely conduct firefighting and rescue operations.
"The recent London high-rise fire...illustrates the importance of life safety protections."
The new legislation would have delayed a sprinkler retrofit requirement set to begin in 2019 for condos built before 1994 and higher than 75 feet. (The requirement deadline had already been extended twice by the legislature.) It would also, according to news reports, have given condo residents the option to opt-out of the requirement. State law requires condos built after 1994 to install fire sprinklers.
Urging Scott to veto the bill was the state's Division of State Fire Marshal, Florida Fire Chiefs Association, and the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “This legislation extends the compliance deadline, once again, and allows condominium residents to opt out of fire sprinklers...which creates an extremely dangerous environment for both residents and first responders responding in the event of an emergency,” the letter stated. The Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition also champions for fire sprinklers in all residences.
Regarding complaints about cost, Julius Halas, director of the Division of State Fire Marshal, said such complaints were disingenuous. "They've had 17 years [since the law was originally passed to retrofit their condos]. They still have two-and-a-half years," he told the Sun Sentinel.
A real estate agent also told the publication that newly installed sprinklers will "make the property more appealing. It will ultimately be a benefit to any owner."
Please sent a tweet to Florida Governor Rick Scott, thanking him for vetoing anti-sprinkler legislation and understanding the necessity of fire sprinklers.