Sioux Falls Looks At Stricter Sprinkler Codes
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
April 04, 2013 5:38 PM
In the past year Sioux Falls has experienced a number of fatal fires and before the most recent one that took the life of a two people on Tuesday the city of Sioux Falls was looking to make some changes when it comes to sprinkler systems in apartment buildings.
The city council established a task force to discuss how building codes can be stricter while still keeping prices reasonable for builders.
“The last 8 months Sioux Falls has seen a lot of tragedies,” said Kenny Anderson Jr.
Fires have killed children twice in the past 4 months in Sioux Falls and members of the city council are making fire safety a priority.
Smaller apartments like the one that burned on Tuesday, do not require sprinkler systems. Any apartment with less than 16 units and shorter than two stories, do not require sprinklers according to the Sioux Falls building code. But, if stricter codes are enacted, money becomes an issue.
“Those smaller buildings that are falling through, the ones that are basically affordable housing. How can we negate those costs into these building costs?” asked Anderson Jr.
Sioux Falls fire officials spoke to the task force praising what they've seen sprinkler systems do in the past.
“We've never had a fire spread beyond the room of origin in a sprinkler apartment building,” said Fire Marshal Dean Lanier.
But, builders who are trying to keep rent low worry about the additional constructing costs. One builder estimates adding a sprinkler system to an 8 apartment unit would cost almost $21,000.
But, fire crews say the extra cost could save lives down the road.
“We buy this construction for where we work and play forever. So, that building is going to stand and it's a place where you and I or our kids are going to rent 25 or 30 years down the line,” said Lanier.
Sprinkler codes in Sioux Falls were last updated in 2000 and the city's fire marshal feels there can be a balance between cost and safety.
“We have to strike a balance of both what's affordable and what's safe and I think there's room to do that,” said Lanier.