Wis. officials: Fire sprinkler rule unenforceable

Fire officials wanted new apartment buildings with three to 20 units to have fire sprinklers installed

By FireRescue1 Staff

MADISON, Wis. — State officials deemed a rule requiring fire sprinklers to be installed in new apartment buildings unenforceable.

Channel3000 reported that the Department of Safety and Professional Services decided six months ago to keep a rule requiring new apartment buildings with three to 20 units to have fire sprinklers installed. However, state law required only buildings with 20 or more units to have fire sprinklers.

In July, the Wisconsin Builders Association challenged the rule, saying a rule can’t be enforced that’s more restrictive than a state law, and the state agreed.

“Disappointing. I really think that every firefighter in the State of Wisconsin should be disappointed, maybe even appalled,” Madison Fire Marshal Ed Ruckriegel said.

Ruckriegel said sprinklers play a huge part in fire safety, putting out flames before firefighters arrive 95 percent of the time. He added that Madison firefighters arrive at a fire that has been put out or at least controlled by sprinklers at least once a week.

“When you look at things like loss of companionship, loss of income, and the complete disruption of people’s lives, it’s a huge psychological toll and it’s forever. Can you put a value on it? I don’t think you can,” Ruckriegel said.

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