Sprinkler installer faces criminal charges

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Wednesday, January 1, 2003

WESTBORO, Mass. -A man who installed a fire sprinkler system in an apartment building without a state license is facing criminal charges after the building caught on fire.

Robert Choquette, of CFP Inc., was scheduled for arraignment in Westboro District Court at the end of December on charges that he performed work and installed fire protection equipment without a contractor’s license.

According to Captain Calvin Lawrence of the Westboro Fire Department, Choquette was in the process of installing sprinklers in each apartment at Fountainhead Apartments when a fire broke out in February 2001. While Choquette installed the plumbing and piping in about 40 percent of the apartments, he was saving connecting the water supply until the end of the project.

“If they had been connected as they went along, each apartment would have had sprinklers,” said Lawrence.

Fountainhead Apartments was required to install retrofit sprinklers in its buildings because a town law adopted several years ago required them in buildings 70 feet or taller built before1975. According to published reports, Fountain-head’s owner hired Choquette in 1999.

In a letter to the court, state Trooper Stephen Foley, an inspector for the Massachusetts Depart of Public Safety’s Division of Inspection, said he not did not find records showing that Choquette’s company, CFP Inc., was registered with the state.

While the fire only affected three apartments, it caused $1 million in damage and left 300 residents homeless for about two weeks while the apartment owner worked to bring the building up to code.

Attempts to reach Choquette or locate CFP Inc. for an interview were not successful. Court documents also did not list a lawyer for Choquette.

Lawrence said Fountainhead Apartments had another fire this fall, but this time “the sprinkler system put it out.”