ADVISORY

To: All Heads of Fire Departments
From: Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Date: September 1, 2005
Re: Another recent significant decision of the Commonwealth's Sprinkler Appeals Board relating to the provisions of the new enhanced sprinkler law, M.G.L. c.148, s.26G1/2 regarding a certain facility that featured dance hall activities and "A-2 like" characteristics.

Attached please find a recent decision of the Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board which upheld an order of the West Springfield Fire Department to require an adequate system of automatic sprinklers in accordance with the provisions of the new law, M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26G1/2. In this case, (ASAB # 2005-05), involving a Knights of Columbus organization, the Board looked at the current use and activities that occur within the building which included, among other things, the regular and routine use of the building for square dances and for stag parties and teenage dances, with limited food service. In this case there was also testimony indicating the existence of incidents involving concentrated occupancy, impeded and/or blocked egress and the lack of control over attendance. The Board concluded that this establishment clearly featured "dance hall" and other activities typical of an "A-2 like" occupancy which the Board considered within the legislative scope of M.G.L. c.148, s.26G1/2.

The Board went to great lengths in distinguishing this particular case from a previous case involving a facility used to host "organized private dining events" In that case (ASAB # 2005-23 which was previously forwarded to you in the August mailing), the Board listed seven specific factors that characterized a facility which primarily hosted "organized private dining events". It determined that such facilities who meet the seven characteristics were not subject to the sprinkler requirements of section 26G1/2.

It is recommended that you read these two cases carefully and note the various characteristics of each building which resulted in different results.

SDC/bhs