Focus on New Laws: Automatic Fire Sprinkler Requirements

October 4, 2021

Two new provisions require automatic sprinkler systems in places of public accommodation and public housing buildings.

The omnibus jobs and economic growth finance and policy bill, First Special Session Chapter 10, establishes new requirements for automatic sprinkler systems. It amends Minnesota Statutes, section 326B.108 and took effect July 1, 2021.

Public accommodation requirement

The new law requires automatic sprinkler systems to be installed in a place of public accommodation if:

  • Constructed, added to, or altered after Aug. 1, 2008, and
  • The occupancy of the venue is more than 300 people.

For the purposes of this law, a facility is a “place of public accommodation” if it is:

  • A publicly or privately owned facility that is designed for occupancy by 100 or more people, and
  • A sports or entertainment arena, stadium, theater, community or convention hall, special event center, indoor amusement facility or water park, or indoor swimming pool.

Public housing requirement

The legislation also added a new section of law, Minnesota Statutes, section 299F.48, that requires the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in existing public housing buildings in which at least one story used for occupancy is 75 feet or more above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access. The automatic sprinkler system must comply with State Fire Code and State Building Code and must be fully operational by Aug. 1, 2033.

The law defines “public housing building” as housing for low-income people and households financed by the federal government and owned and operated by the public housing authorities and agencies formed by cities and counties.

Cities should note there are also reporting requirements. By Aug. 1, 2023, the building’s owner must submit to the state fire marshal a letter stating the owner’s intent to comply with this law and a plan for achieving compliance by August 2033.

Extensions to the 2023 reporting deadline or the 2033 operational deadline may be granted; however, any extension must be tailored to ensure public welfare and safety. To be eligible for an extension, the building owner must apply to the commissioner of public safety and demonstrate a genuine inability to comply within the time prescribed despite appropriate effort to do so.

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