Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
Published June 30, 2017
Pointing to a high-rise fire in London that killed dozens
of residents, Florida Gov. Rick Scott late Monday vetoed a bill that would
have eased fire-protection requirements for older condominium buildings in
The bill (HB 653), which passed the Legislature with only
one dissenting vote, dealt with requirements for retrofitting high-rise
condominium buildings with fire sprinklers and other types of safety
systems. The bill would have pushed back deadlines for the work and provided
an avenue for condominium residents to vote to opt out of retrofitting.
Supporters pointed to
potentially high costs for condominium residents, but the
state fire marshal’s office and fire-protection groups asked
Scott to veto the measure
In doing so, he cited the June 14 fire at Grenfell Tower in
London that killed dozens of people.
“Since my first day as governor, I have fought to make
Florida the safest and most affordable place to live and
raise a family,” Scott wrote in a veto message. “Decisions
regarding safety issues are critically important, as they
can be the difference between life and death. Fire
sprinklers and enhanced life safety systems are particularly
effective in improving the safety of occupants in high-rise
buildings and ensure the greatest protection to the
emergency responders who bravely conduct firefighting and
rescue operations. While I am particularly sensitive to
regulations that increase the cost of living, the recent
London high-rise fire, which tragically took at least 79
lives, illustrates the importance of life safety
Florida Gov. Rick Scott
The bill was one of five that Scott vetoed late Monday.
Among the others was a bill (HB 937) that would have required the Florida
Lottery to post warnings about the addictive nature of lottery games.
“This bill imposes burdensome regulations on the Lottery and its retail
partners, and many of the notice provisions are duplicative of current
Lottery initiatives,” Scott wrote in his veto message.
He also vetoed a bill that would have created electronic wills and trusts (HB
277), a mortgage regulation bill (HB 747) and a bill that would have
reorganized how the state manages its information technology resources (HB
The condominium bill primarily would have affected high-rise buildings built
before 1994. A House staff analysis of the bill said more recently built
condo buildings that are three stories or more already are required to have
Under current law, local governments are barred from requiring retrofitting
before the end of 2019. Also, condominium residents can vote to opt out of
retrofitting with sprinklers but are not able to opt out of an alternative
known as “engineered life safety systems,” according to the House analysis.
Those systems involve a combination of fire-safety devices.
The bill, in part, would have pushed the 2019 deadline back to 2022. Also,
it would have allowed condominium residents, by two-thirds votes, to opt out
of retrofitting with sprinklers and engineered life safety systems.
Before House members voted unanimously to approve the bill May 2, sponsor
George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale, said the retrofitting projects can be
“(The) main purpose of the bill is to allow for the opt-out of the sprinkler
and ELSS upgrades, which can run into the millions of dollars for high-rise
condominiums,” Moraitis said. “I want to emphasize, this is only for
residential condominiums, does not affect hotels and those sorts of things.”
Julius Halas, director of the Division of State Fire Marshal, and leaders of
the Florida Fire Chiefs Association and the Florida Fire Marshals and
Inspectors Association sent a letter to Scott urging a veto.
“This legislation extends the compliance deadline, once again, and allows
condominium residents to opt out of both fire sprinklers and an ELSS, which
creates an extremely dangerous environment for both residents and first
responders responding in the event of an emergency,” the letter said.