Rutherford, Watson Coleman Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Update Fire Safety in Public Housing and Protect First Responders

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – RealEstateRama – Congressman John Rutherford (FL-05) joined Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) to reintroduce the Public Housing Fire Safety Act. This bipartisan legislation provides funding for public housing authorities to equip older facilities with sprinkler systems to improve the safety of residents and local communities.

“Older public housing units are often not up to code, leaving residents exposed to potential hazards,” said Congressman Rutherford. “I am proud to join Congresswoman Watson Coleman to reintroduce the bipartisan Public Housing Fire Safety Act to provide grants to public housing authorities as they update older facilities with sprinkler systems. This simple change can prevent unnecessary disasters and ensure residents, their belongings, and our fire rescue teams are kept safe.”

“Sprinkler systems have been shown to be one of the most effective ways to prevent widespread damage and loss of life in the event of a fire,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman. “As this country faces emergency after emergency, it’s our responsibility to mitigate and provide solutions so American people aren’t suffering. By ensuring our citizens living in public housing have the most basic fire safety measures, they become the priority. The added benefit that it will help save the lives of our nation’s bravest this a no-brainer.”

Thousands of public housing apartment buildings around the country were built before the Federal Fire Safety Act of 1992 which requires fire sprinklers in all new government-owned buildings. This leaves at risk the more than two million Americans living in older public housing.

The Public Housing Fire Safety Act would:

  • Create a grant program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide funds to public housing authorities that wish to install automatic sprinkler systems in older public housing buildings.
  • Collect data on the status of sprinkler installations and submit a report to Congress that includes recommendations to improve fire safety.

The Public Fire Safety Act is supported by the following organizations: The National Fire Sprinkler Association, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), Minnesota NAHRO, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the National Housing Law Project (NHLP), the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters, the USA Sprinkler Fitters Association, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, and the Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council.

“One of the most important investments our federal government can make when it comes to addressing life safety issues in public housing is retrofitting with fire sprinkler systems. Fire sprinklers protect property and save the lives of both residents and the firefighters who respond in the event of emergency,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI). “CSFI thanks Representatives Watson Coleman and Rutherford for introducing the Public Housing Fire Safety Act, which would help ensure that our nation’s public housing is better protected from the threat of fire.”

“The Public Housing Fire Safety Act is both a crucial and necessary solution to improving the safety of public housing facilities and protecting the lives of tenants across the country,” said Trinidad Uribe, President, USA Sprinkler Fitters Association. “These long overdue investments to install automatic sprinkler systems in public housing will undoubtedly enhance the overall safety of these facilities and save countless lives. The USA Sprinkler Fitters Association is proud to support this legislation as well as its champions in Congress, and we look forward to continuing to work to secure its passage in the 118th Congress.

Read the full bill text here.

A companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota.


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