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Wisconsin to resume enforcement of fire sprinklers in multi-family dwellings

Posted at 5:16 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 18:16:16-05

The State of Wisconsin is resuming enforcing a code provision requiring fire sprinkler systems in certain multi-family homes, a policy that may help stop a plague of home fires in the Milwaukee area this winter.

Multi-family homes taller than 60 feet, or six stories, and with three or more attached dwelling units will need to have an automatic fire sprinkler system installed. That is unless the building meets the narrowly defined exceptions outlined here, according to the Department of Safety and Professional Services.

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In 2017, the Wisconsin Attorney General issued an opinion stating that the fire sprinkler requirements in the state's Administrative Code SPS § 362.0903 could not be enforced. DSPS stopped enforcing the requirement, but did not remove it from the administrative code.

That changed last year, when state Attorney General Josh Kaul issued an opinion stating the provision is in fact enforceable. The department thus decided to resume enforcement of the code requirement beginning on April 19.

“Enforcing this provision will protect individuals and families that live in multi-family dwellings and it will protect the firefighters who respond to calls," DSPS Secretary-designee Dawn Crim said in a statement.

Last year, 530 plans that would be subject to enforcement of the code were submitted to the department for approval, according to DSPS. 79 did not include fire sprinkler systems, and the rest of the projects already included complete (419) or partial (32) fire sprinkler systems.

Any building plans submitted to the department or municipalities with delegated authority to review plans on behalf of the department, or delivered with a postmark on or after April 19, 2021, will need to reflect compliance with fire sprinkler requirements established in Wis. Admin. Code SPS § 362.0903.

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