"Massachusetts Fire Safety Act"
Chapter 304 of the Acts of 2004

In August, 2004, , Governor Mitt Romney signed landmark fire safety legislation , Chapter 304 of the Acts and Resolves of 2004. One of the most important features of this new law is that certain nightclubs, bars, dancehalls, discotheques and other places of assembly must install sprinklers within three years to protect their patrons from fire. In general, facilities that hold 100 patrons or more must install automatic extinguishing systems.

Help for Fire, Building and Municipal Officials on Implementation

The Department of Fire Services and the Department of Public Safety held a series of training seminars for fire and building officials to provide help to DFS Legal Counsel Presentation (Retrofit Requirements) ppt format of 304_sprinkler_retrofit_requirements.ppt implement Chapter 304, especially MGL Chapter 148 S 26G1/2. As part of these seminars, the State Fire Marshal ppt format of 304_fire_act_presentation.ppt and the DFS Legal Counsel ppt format of 304_sprinkler_retrofit_requirements.ppt each delivered Powerpoint® presentations which are available for download. We have also collected many of the questions asked during these seminars and prepared answers in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document. Please direct any questions on fire code compliance and enforcement to the Office of the State Fire Marshal's (OSFM) Code Compliance Office at (978) 567-3375 or by email to the DFS Division's Administrative Assistant Barbara.DiGregorio@state.ma.us.

Other helpful information for local officials advisories and decisions from the Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board (ASAB) on MGL c148 s 26G1/2 regarding the installation of automatic sprinklers in certain places of public assembly

Highlights of Chapter 304 of the Acts and Resolves of 2004:

  • Mandates sprinklers in places of assembly, such as nightclubs, with an occupancy of 100 persons or more within three years (by Nov. 15, 2007);
  • Creates a two-strike rule for places of assembly with occupancies of less than 100 that exceed capacity. If a club is cited for an occupancy violation twice in a year, automatic sprinklers must be installed within 90 days or the business will be shut down;
  • Eases the financial burden on businesses complying with the new law by putting in place an accelerated tax depreciation deduction for the purchase of automatic sprinkler systems required to be installed as a retrofit in existing nightclubs, discotheques, dance halls and bars from the current 39 years to five years;
  • Creates criminal penalties for dangerous conditions in public assembly buildings, including blocking ingress or egress; shutting off or failing to maintain fire protection systems; storing flammables or explosives; and using fireworks or pyrotechnics without a permit and exceeding occupancy limits. The first infraction will result in a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2½ years. Subsequent infractions will result in a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years;
  • Establishes criminal penalties for individuals who violate provisions of the state building or fire codes when a violation results in significant injury or death. Violations may result in a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years; and
  • Restores the Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) program, which helps educate children about fire safety awareness, and provides grants to municipalities to assist in the purchase of firefighter safety equipment.

The report from the Secretary Task Force on Fire and Building Safety led to this landmark legislation.

 

This page is maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services.