Engine 2 (the quint) on scene Southpoint fire 5:15ish
Unlike the tragic Rolling Green fire (1/21/13) that took the life of Jake Hoffman, a 21-year-old UMass senior, the rebuilding of Southpoint Apartments is a tad more complicated when it comes to the sprinkler system requirement.
Rolling Green fatal fire (photo by Stephanie Jernigan
Since Southpoint was originally built way back in 1968 they are "grandfathered," but new codes will now come to bear with the relevant three being: "Would otherwise require sprinklers" (Yes); "Sufficient water pressure available in the area" (Yes); and "Work area exceeds 50% of the building" (No).
Connecting walls are not considered "true fire walls"
And it takes only one "No" to nix the requirement for lifesaving sprinklers.
Southpoint designates the four contiguous structures as separate buildings: Building #99, #97, #95 and #93 -- but the walls they share are not considered "true fire walls," therefore all four buildings are considered just one really BIG building.
Fire started in kitchen (pot left on stove)
Thus the work on #97 where the fire started, even though it's the entirety of the building, is only 25% of the total square footage.
A jigsaw of four buildings, but considered one
State law, however, gives extraordinary authority to a fire chief, so Chief Nelson can simply order them to install sprinklers as part of the renovation, as he did with Rolling Green Apartments (and they were self insured so it cost them a few bucks).
According to Chief Nelson, "Before we decide we'll have to see what the owners plan to do with the damaged property. As a general statement, with few exceptions, we always lean toward sprinkler use in occupancies."
Southpoint building #97 5:35 PM
Interestingly the building owners could appeal that to the state (who usually sides with a Chief), but the State Fire Marshal does not even have to convene a hearing for such an appeal.
Considering how understaffed AFD is, every bit of built-in fire protection installed in occupied major structures is a plus. And sprinklers are a HUGE plus.
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