Advocating for Lives: Senators Push for Safer Public Housing Through Sprinkler System Retrofits

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New Bill Aims to Encourage Retrofitting of Sprinkler Systems in Older Public Housing Buildings

WASHINGTON, D.C. [8.3.23] – In an effort to bolster safety measures in public housing, Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar (both D-MN) have reintroduced legislation focusing on the installation of sprinkler systems in older public housing complexes. This initiative is designed to enhance the safety of residents and communities. Corresponding legislation has been introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ 15) and John Rutherford (R-FL 05), with additional support from Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN 5).

Preventing Loss in the Wake of Tragedy

The origin of the Public Housing Fire Safety Act can be traced back to Senator Smith’s response to the tragic Cedar High Apartments fire in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2019. Notably, the upper floors of the building lacked sprinkler systems, prompting the introduction of this legislation.

Senator Klobuchar emphasized the urgency of the legislation, stating, “In the wake of the tragic 2019 Cedar High Apartments Fire, I joined Senator Smith in introducing legislation to ensure that buildings have properly installed fire and sprinkler systems. Every second counts during a house fire, and with up-to-date systems, more lives can be saved. We need to continue these efforts by passing the Public Housing Fire Safety Act to bring us one step closer towards ensuring that buildings are safe for all residents.”

Tackling Residential Fire Safety at the Roots

Senator Smith echoed the sentiment, expressing, “The fire at Cedar High Apartments was a tragic loss for the Cedar-Riverside community. In the aftermath of the tragedy, I began connecting with people closely affected by the fire and looking into ways to prevent it from happening again. This bill gets to the root of what we need to do: incentivize public housing authorities to install sprinkler systems and give them the support they need to do it.”

Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), emphasized the critical nature of retrofitting public housing with fire sprinkler systems, stating, “One of the most important investments our federal government can make when it comes to addressing life safety issues in public housing is retrofitting with fire sprinkler systems. Fire sprinklers protect property and save the lives of both residents and the firefighters who respond in the event of an emergency.”

Congress to Vote on Fire Sprinkler Funding

Chief Donna Black, President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, urged Congress to pass the legislation, highlighting the elevated risk faced by families in public housing and the life-saving potential of automatic fire sprinklers.

The Public Housing Fire Safety Act proposes a $25 million competitive grant program, intended to provide funds to public housing authorities seeking to retrofit older high-rise apartment buildings with sprinkler systems, thereby preventing future tragedies.

Install Fire Sprinklers In Your Building Today

Residential building fires are a preventable tragedy. Fire Protection Team is your partner in installing fire sprinklers and fire alarm systems in new buildings and retrofitting older buildings. Don’t wait until it’s too late, give us a call today at 203.250.1115 to learn how we can protect your property and the lives therein.

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