WESTMINSTER, MASS. — SimplexGrinnell said in mid-February that it would lease fire sprinkler systems to building owners on a national basis in order to reduce the cost of installing the systems.
The company announced the program near the anniversary of The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island that killed 100 persons and injured about 200 others (March 2003, pg. 1). The anniversary is also the effective date of Rhode Island’s new fire sprinkler retrofit law.
Recognizing the potential financial burden of complying with Rhode Island’s comprehensive fire safety act, SimplexGrinnell said it is offering nightclubs and other businesses special opportunities that allow the fire sprinkler systems required under the new law to be leased rather than purchased outright.
SimplexGrinnell, a unit of Tyco Fire & Security, can in some cases lease 100% of the project cost, including equipment, installation, maintenance, monitoring and training, the company said. The SimplexGrinnell agreements work much like other equipment leases, with the customer making monthly payments according to a pre-determined, mutually agreeable schedule.
Rhode Island’s Comprehensive Fire Safety Act of 2003 reflects the work of a 21-member commission that was appointed following the fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick. The new law took effect Feb. 20, the one-year anniversary of the nightclub fire. News reports in Rhode Island have indicated that one of the compliance challenges facing small businesses is the cost of installing or upgrading fire sprinkler systems in accordance with the new law.
“We understand the importance of this law and the critical role it will play in reducing the risk of death, injury and property damage from catastrophic fires,” said Dave Baer, vice president/sales and marketing at SimplexGrinnell. “At the same time, we know that the cost of compliance can be an issue in some instances. That’s why we’re making this leasing option available to Rhode Island businesses. We’re committed to working with customers on an individual basis to find the most practical and affordable way to get the necessary fire safety systems in place.”
SimplexGrinnell’s office in Providence, R.I., is providing consultation to businesses that are preparing to comply with the law.
“In these Rhode Island venues, the leasing program is an option that will enable customers to get the systems and services they need, without straining their capital resources,” Baer said.
The Station nightclub was not equipped with a sprinkler system when pyrotechnics set off by a band performing at the nightclub ignited soundproofing foam near the stage. The Rhode Island law bans pyrotechnics in most buildings, requires sprinklers for nightclubs with maximum occupancies exceeding 150 and eliminates a grandfather clause that had enabled older buildings to avoid some code requirements.
The new sprinkler requirements are being phased in over two years. Nightclubs with maximum occupancies from 150 to 300 have until July 1, 2006, to install sprinklers. Larger clubs must install them by July 1, 2005. Clubs with capacities above 150 will also need exit signs near the floor to guide customers and employees if the building fills with smoke. The law requires fire alarm system communication with the local fire department and gives more authority to the state fire marshal’s office and local authorities.