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Mass. Fire Safety Commission and Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board

Here you'll find information regarding the Massachusetts Fire Safety Commission and Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board.

The Massachusetts Fire Safety Commission (MFSC) promulgates all rules and regulations for the implementation of a statewide plan for the retrofit installation of automatic sprinklers in all existing buildings and structures of more than seventy feet in height. The Fire Safety Commission is composed of the following nine members. Contact the Commission at (978) 567-3181.

Board Members

Kristin M. Kelly, Chair

Representative, Sprinkler Fitters 550 Union

Daniel “Gary” Rogers, Vice Chair

Representative, Massachusetts Association of Realtors

Jon M. Davine

State Fire Marshal (Ex Officio)

Paul F. Burke (Deputy Chief Patrick Ellis, Designee)

Commissioner, Boston Fire Department (Ex Officio)

Chief Michael Spanknebel

Representative, Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts

David Riquinha (Alexander MacLeod, Designee)

Chairman, Board of Building Regulations and Standards (Ex Officio)

Patricia Berry

Representative, Hotel/Motel Association


Professional Engineer

George A. Duhamel

Representative, Electrical Inspectors   

Board Staff

Rachel E. Perlman, Esq.

Legal Counsel

MaryElizabeth Lynch-Lent

Executive Assistant  


The Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board (ASAB), a five-member hearing board of the Massachusetts Fire Safety Commission, conducts hearings for persons seeking relief from orders or requirements of the head of the fire department, issued pursuant to the following provisions of M.G.L. c. 148:

  • M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26A½required the retroactive sprinkler installation in buildings or structures over 70’ feet high and built prior to January 1, 1975. Original law was effective in 1986.
  • M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26G – requires sprinklers in certain non-residential buildings that, in the aggregate, consist of over 7,500 s.f. in floor area. Sprinklers are required for new construction, major alterations or when any addition is taking place.
  • M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26G½ – required the retroactive installation of sprinkler systems in nightclubs, dancehalls, discothèques, bars or similar entertainment venues built prior to December 1, 2004 that have a capacity of 100 persons or more. The law required such installations no later than November 15, 2007.
  • M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26H – requires the installation of sprinklers in lodging houses or boarding houses where lodgings are let to 6 or more unrelated persons. Such installation is required within five (5) years of the local adoption of the law.

ASAB Hearings and How to File Appeals

For ASAB hearings: the presence of the appellant and the head of the fire department or designee/agent is strongly recommended. To obtain an appeal application, please see the link below.

Filing ASAB Appeals: All appeals must be filed within 45 days (calendar days) after receiving service of notice of the head of the fire department's determination. All appeals require the submission of the formal application form (8 copies), a copy of the head of the fire department's written determination, a written explanation of relief request, and a $100.00 file fee.

ASAB Appeal Application and Instructions
If you have any questions regarding the appeals application, or the hearings process, please feel free to call the Executive Assistant to the Board at (978) 567-3181.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:        The fire department has issued an order for sprinklers to be installed in my building.  Can I file an appeal with the Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board?

A:        Yes, if the Order from the fire department falls under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 148, section 26A½, section 26G, section 26G½, or 26H.


Q:        Where do I find the appeal application and is there a fee to file an appeal?

A:        Click here for the appeal application.  The filing fee is $100.00. 


Q:        How long do I have to file an appeal and how do I submit it?

A:        You have 45 calendar days from the date you receive the Order from the fire department.  At this time, appeals are only accepted by mail or in person (there is no online filing system).  The Board will use the date the appeal package was postmarked to calculate the filing date.


Q:        Can the fire department take any action against me after I file my appeal?

A:        Related to the subject of the appeal, no.  An appeal shall stay (pause) all proceedings in furtherance of the action, or failure to act appealed from, unless the head of the fire department presents evidence that a stay would involve imminent peril of life or property.


Q:        How fast will my appeal be scheduled?

A:        In general, hearings are scheduled and held within 30 days after the filing of an appeal, unless an extension of time is agreed upon by the Appellant or unless the Board cannot make a quorum (a majority of Board Members available to attend the meeting). 


Q.        Are appeals held in person or remotely (by video), and how do I know where to go?

A.        Appeals are currently being held remotely (by video).  Board staff will send out hearing notices approximately three to four weeks before the hearing, and they will send you the video link for the hearing approximately one week before the hearing. 


Q:        Do I need an attorney to be with me for my appeal hearing?

A:        No, you are not required to have a lawyer, but you may bring one at your own expense.


Q:        What sort of information should I submit to the Board? 

A:        Any documentation/evidence which clearly establishes the characteristics and uses of the subject building. It is helpful to review prior written decisions of the Board to become familiar with the type of information presented to the Board and/or determine what information the Board relied upon it making its decisions. A link to recent decisions can be found at the bottom of this page.


Q:        Is a hearing before the Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board like a court hearing?

A:        No.  Hearings are considered informal but are conducted in accordance with the provisions of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30A and the adjudicatory hearing rules under the provisions of 801 CMR.  Although the Board applies informal rules during hearings, all appellants and fire departments appearing before the Board should be well prepared in presenting testimony, documents and other evidence to support their positions.


Q:        What should I (the Appellant or Fire Department) expect at a hearing before the Board?

A:        At the time of the hearing, the Board expects that all parties will provide accurate and complete documentation regarding: specific building use group classification, legal capacity (certificate of inspection issued by the building department), occupant load, the building’s dimensions, and a detailed interior floor plan that shows all rooms, walls, doorways, exits and stairways. Evidence regarding the specific activities that occur within the building is very important in the determination of many cases. 

For more information on presenting before the Board, please see these important memos:

  1. Memorandum - May 1, 2020  - Stipulations of Facts and Recommended Dispositions
  2. Memorandum - May 1, 2020 - Presentation of cases before the Board


Q:        How fast will the Board make a decision on my case? 

A:        Generally, within thirty (30) days of the Hearing, the Board shall issue a decision or order reversing, affirming, or modifying (in whole or in part) such interpretation, order or requirement from the fire department. 

Advisories and Memorandum Issued by the Board

Advisory on M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26G  - Updated advisory regarding amendments to M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26G (Chapter 508 of the Acts of 2008) which requires enhanced sprinkler protection in certain buildings which total more than 7,500 gross square feet in floor area.

Advisory on M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26H  - Advisory regarding M.G.L. c. 148, s. 26H which requires enhanced sprinkler protection in lodging or boarding houses where “lodgings are let to 6 or more persons not within the second degree of kindred”. 

Memorandum - May 1, 2020  - Stipulations of Facts and Recommended Dispositions

Memorandum - May 1, 2020 - Presentation of cases before the Board

ASAB Jan. 10, 2005 Advisory - Advisory regarding certain provisions of Ch. 304, of the Acts and Resolves of 2004 (M.G.L. c.148, s.26G½) relating to the installation of automatic sprinklers in certain existing places of public assembly.


Recent Decisions of the Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board

Mass. Fire Safety Commission Agendas and Past Meeting Minutes

Contact   for Mass. Fire Safety Commission and Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board

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