Wisconsin to require new, multi-family apartment buildings have fire sprinkler systems

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Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services will once again start requiring all new multi-family dwellings have fire suppression sprinkler systems. First News at Nine’s Max Cotton explains why an old rule, once overturned, is back on the books.

In Wisconsin, all new residential buildings with more than 20 units are required to have a fire sprinkler system.

If a building has between three and 19 units, the legal requirement was a little murky since it was introduced by the department of safety and professional services not lawmakers. Bob Dupont, founder of the Alliance for Regulatory Coordination says the change was accepted for nearly seven years.

“From the inception of the code requirement in 2011, they enforced it up until 2017,” said Dupont.

In 2017, then State Attorney General Brad Schimel issued an opinion saying the regulation violated state law. DSPSD then stopped enforcing it.

However, current Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul recently issued a new opinion saying the regulation is legal. Eau Claire Deputy Fire Chief Allyn Bertrang says reinstating the requirement will save lives.

“They are what controls the fire or extinguishes it prior to our arrival, making the situation much much safer for any occupants of the building and for firefighters when arrive to fully extinguish the fire,” said Bertrang.

Bertrang adds sprinkler systems are far more important nowadays since modern furniture and building materials are far more flammable than their older counterparts.

“There’s more combustible materials being used. There are things such as glues and things like that in the buildings. So, buildings burn much hotter and much quicker than they did 50 years ago,” said Bertrang.

He says sprinkler systems often times work as partners with firefighters.

Max Cotton, First News at Nine.

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