Deadline looms for older Florida High-Rises to Install Engineered Life Safety Systems!
Florida’s 2019 60-day Legislative Session will begin on March 5, 2019 and is expected to end on May 3, 2019.
The Florida Fire Protection Code, Section 126.96.36.199 of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 requires existing (pre-1992) “high-rise” buildings which are not otherwise exempt to be protected either by an automatic sprinklers system or by an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) by Jan. 1, 2019. Given the timing involved, any further legislative remedies no longer seem feasible.
The components of an ELSS may vary from one jurisdiction to another but the ELSS must meet all of the other requirements of the NFPA 101. A typical ELSS requires the following:
- A report by a licensed architect or engineer identifying the building’s existing condition and outlining the alterations needed to comply with the NFPA 101.
- A complete fire sprinkler system for all common areas.
- A partial fire sprinkler system for the condominium units which typically is one sprinkler head inside each unit located above the entrance door to the unit.
- A complete fire and smoke alarm system which complies with current life safety codes.
- An approved compartmentation plan designed to restrict a fire from spreading which typically includes either smoke-proof elevator lobbies or pressurized elevator hoistways, sealing of floor and wall penetrations, etc.
Naturally, it will take time to complete the necessary Engineer’s Report and to locate, vet and hire a contractor who can perform this work in your community. Also, there is the large matter of how to pay for the ELSS installation. If you plan on using reserve funds to do so you will need a membership vote to approve using those funds for that purpose unless you had a special reserve earmarked for ELSS installation. If you plan on obtaining financing to pay for the installation it takes time to apply for and secure such financing.
At this point, if your pre-1992 high-rise is not exempt and you have not yet made plans to install the necessary ELSS prior to the end of 2019 you need to speak to experienced Association counsel immediately to take the steps needed to ensure you do not miss the deadline and wind up being fined as a result.