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New law addresses fire sprinklers

Albany is taking a hard look at sprinklers, long regarded as a basic fire fighting tool in offices and factories and increasingly present in homes.

Now, Governor Cuomo has signed legislation requiring new home builders and apartment owners to tell owners or renters whether or not there are sprinklers in the property. There is already a requirement to tell prospective tenants in college dorms whether or not there are sprinklers.

It's called the Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act, named for a Marist College student killed in an off-campus fire.

State Senator Cathy Young, who chairs the Housing Committee, says it's another example of tragedy being turned into helping legislation. The law, she says,  mandates information, not sprinklers.
"The reason that we made this optional is so that it still gives people a choice. So, this does not mandate that somebody has to install a sprinkler system in their newly-built home," Young explained.

"However, we want consumers to be fully informed and understand what it actually can mean from a positive sense as far as protecting their family's lives."

Young says there is also the issue of rural areas relying on well water where sprinklers might not work. A state agency called the Fire Prevention and Building Code Council is looking at changing state building codes to require sprinklers and will discuss the topic at its August 20 meeting.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.