Our firm’s other community association attorneys and I often receive questions from association members, directors and managers about the Florida law requiring that high-rise condominium towers must have automatic fire sprinkler or Engineered Life Safety systems in place by the end of 2019.
I have developed a simple and brief overview of the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC) that is now posted in our firm’s website. The three-page document explains that the FFPC defines “high-rise building” to mean a building that is greater than 75 feet in height, with the height being measured from the lowest level of fire department access to the floor of the highest occupiable level. It mandates that all such buildings other than those with an approved Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) must be protected throughout by an approved and supervised automatic sprinkler system no later than December 31, 2019.
The primer goes on to discuss how the Florida Condominium Act includes an exception that allows condominiums to avoid having to install a complete automatic fire sprinkler system. It provides Florida condominiums with the ability to “opt-out” if a majority of the total voting interest of the association votes in favor of doing so at a duly called and noticed meeting of the membership.
If a Florida condominium wishes to “opt-out” it must do so by December 31, 2016. However, even if a condominium association successfully opts-out, the association may still be required to install an ELSS or take other safety measures as required by the municipality where the condominium is located.