New Bill Calls For Sprinkler Systems In Older Public Housing High-Rises

Steve Scott
February 25, 2020 - 2:24 pm
Fire sprinkler

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — More than 90 percent of New York City Housing Authority public housing developments are not required to have fire sprinklers and two local lawmakers want to change that.

Republican Long Island Congressman Peter King and Democratic Staten Island Congressman Max Rose have introduced the Public Housing Fire Safety Act which would require every older public housing high-rise apartment building across the country to be retrofitted with fire sprinklers.

The Federal Fire Safety Act of 1992 required the installation of sprinklers in all new government-owned high rise buildings, but not in the thousands of public housing apartment buildings around the country built before that date — including 296 out of 316 NYCHA developments. 

"More than any other city in the country, New York City would be affected the most because New York was basically the first to go with large scale public housing and when the law was passed it exempted everyone before 1992 — well that's when almost all of the public housing developments in New York were constructed," King told WCBS 880. "We're talking about thousands and thousands of people being at risk."

King said the rate of death is 81 percent higher in residences that do not have public sprinkler systems and this bill is essential to saving lives.

The legislation would set up a grant system in the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide funds to public housing authorities who wish to retrofit older high-rise apartment buildings.

"This can't be done overnight, it's going to cost something, but the idea is to get the process started and see where it goes with the goal of having all public high-rise developments having this type of protection," King said. 

The bill was introduced in the Senate last December by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN).