WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Published April 10, 2019
The ELSS topic is a very sticky issue. Why? Board Members and
members alike believed that if they took the necessary steps to vote
down (opt-out) the installation of an “automatic fire
sprinkler system” then they need not worry. The truth of the matter
is that this is not the case. As per the Florida Fire Prevention
Code, buildings that are classified as a High-Rise would need to
have either an automatic fire sprinkler system or an Engineering
Life Safety System (ELSS) by December 31, 2019
So, what’s the difference between the two? An automatic fire
sprinkler system means the entire building, including the interior
of units and all common areas, would need to have automatic
sprinklers. An Engineering Life Safety System (ELSS) is an
alternative form of protection. An ELSS is comprised of some or all
of the following:
1. Partial Automatic fire sprinkler – Example, the installation
of sprinklers in commons areas and a sprinkler in front of each unit
instead of inside the units.
2. Integrated smoke detection with an alarm system.
4. Alternatively, other approved systems
The real issue is that your local fire officials can tell your
condominium to install an ELSS system even if they voted to opt-out
of an automatic fire sprinkler system.
For those associations that opted out and haven't received advice
from your legal counsel and local fire safety officials, that have
jurisdiction for your property, you better pick up that phone today.
I do believe more clarity is needed; however, some can argue that
the issue has been going on for several years now and the fire code
has been the fire code.
What do you think? Should your local fire official have such
authority or should a blanket policy be applied across the state?