Wisconsin state officials scrap plan to require fewer fire sprin - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wisconsin state officials scrap plan to require fewer fire sprinklers

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Madison (WKOW) -- State officials scrap a plan to require fewer apartment buildings to install fire sprinklers, after fire chiefs and other state officials used public hearings to oppose the proposal.

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Deputy Secretary Eric Esser tells 27 News the sprinkler portion of a package of proposed, building code changes was dropped after department review.  "The piece will not be moving forward, that's our position as an agency,"  Esser tells 27 News.

Current codes require sprinklers in apartment buildings with as few as four units.  The proposed change would have exempted apartment buildings of up to nineteen units from the sprinkler requirement.

Fitchburg Fire Chief Joe Pulvermacher says fire safety professionals came together quickly to oppose this change, and he's pleased state officials abandoned it.  "The impact of potentially leaving up to twenty family residential units unprotected was of significant concern to us,"  Pulvermacher says.

During hearings, a representative of the Wisconsin Builders Association argued the cost of sprinklers would be a barrier to families moving into units, with the increased cost of the housing affecting potential tenants at a rate of three families for every dollar increase.  He's yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News on the state's decision to pull back from any change to the sprinkler requirement.

Esser says department officials have to yet to decide on the possibility of expanding the use of circuit interrupters that prevent fire and electrocution.  An advisory panel of experts voted last year to support such an expansion.

Advocates for burn victims say circuit interrupters would add a few hundred dollars to the cost of a new home, but are worth the additional protection.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Firefighters warn that moves being made by Gov. Scott Walker's administration to overhaul Wisconsin's electrical and building codes could costs lives.

The state Department of Safety and Professional Services plans to end a requirement that builders install fire sprinklers in new housing projects with three to 20 units.

The department also is declining to expand the use of circuit interrupters that prevent fire and electrocution.

A panel of experts voted 9-1 last year to expand the use of circuit interrupters.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports department officials rejected the recommendations.

Advocates for burn victims say circuit interrupters would add only a few hundred dollars to the cost of a new home.

A department spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday.
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   Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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