Missouri gov refuses to delay sprinklers

Gov. Nixon vetoes bill that would have delayed sprinkler mandate for long-term care facilities
 - 
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—Gov. Jay Nixon this summer vetoed a bill to add a two-year delay to a requirement that all residential care and assisted living facilities in Missouri install sprinkler systems, the governor’s office said.

According to a press release, the governor said that “the protection of the elderly and individuals with disabilities who reside in those facilities was too important to push back, particularly since the original law requiring the sprinkler systems by the end of 2012 has been in place for four years already.”

A November 2006 fire that killed 10 residents and a staff member at the Anderson Guest House, a group home for individuals with mental disabilities in Anderson, led to the passage of the law in 2007.

The law set Dec. 31, 2012 as the deadline for all long-term care facilities to install sprinklers, but the General Assembly this year passed Senate Bill 118, which would have delayed that requirement until Dec. 31, 2014, the governor’s office said.

“We’re glad the governor took that stance on the veto,” Chris Gaut, National Fire Sprinkler Association central region manager, told Security Systems News. The NFSA lobbied against the bill, he said.

Missouri State Fire Marshal Randy Cole said in an email interview that he was with the governor July 6 when he vetoed the legislation. Cole said the governor stressed it was too risky to have the vulnerable residents of such facilities continue to wait for sprinkler protection.

Nixon’s office reported him as saying: “The law provided these facilities with more than five years to install the basic measures that would save lives. Yet here we are, several years later, with only incremental progress made toward having sprinkler systems in every group home. Any further delay puts lives unnecessarily at risk, and that is unacceptable.”

The governor’s office said that, as of early July, 78 residential care facilities (out of 426 total) and 18 assisted living facilities (out of 180 total) in the state did not have the type of sprinkler systems required by the law.

Gaut said the NFSA is researching whether there are any low-interest loan programs that the facilities could take advantage to install the sprinklers.