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Would Be Required in Single-Family Homes : Beverly Hills to Consider Fire Sprinkler Plan

May 26, 1988|JULIO MORAN | Times Staff Writer

Automatic fire sprinkler systems would be required in all new construction, including single-family homes, under recommendations being proposed by the Beverly Hills Fire and Building and Safety departments.

In addition, sprinklers would be required in all existing buildings of at least five stories, or 55 feet, tall.

The City Council is expected to consider the proposals at a meeting July 5.

While the requirement for sprinklers in single-family homes is unusual, it is not unique. At least 10 cities in California require sprinkler systems in homes, including San Clemente and Salinas, according to Beverly Hills Fire Chief William Daley.

The recommendations are part of a months-long effort to update the Municipal, Building and Fire codes.

Fatal Fire

The proposals were presented at this week's City Council study session in response to a request for information by Councilman Bernard Hecht after the May 4 fire at the First Interstate Bank building in downtown Los Angeles. One person died and 40 others were injured in the fire that destroyed the 12th to 15th floors of the 62-story building.

City officials still do not know how many five-story buildings there are in the city. But, according to a report by Beverly Hills Fire Chief William Daley, Beverly Hills has 32 buildings at least 75 feet tall, the state's definition of a high-rise. The tallest is the new wing of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, which is 14 stories.

Only two of the 32 buildings--the Beverly Hilton Hotel and Saks Fifth Avenue department store--have sprinklers. Two other buildings, City Hall and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, are in the process of installing sprinklers.

Obsolete Ordinance

In early 1973, the city adopted an ordinance requiring all new buildings of five stories, or 55 feet tall, to install sprinklers. But that ordinance became obsolete later that year because the city placed a three-story limit on all commercial buildings. Daley said he does not know how many of the new three-story buildings have sprinklers.

In 1980, the state passed a law requiring sprinklers in all buildings 75 feet or taller built since 1974. The state is now considering revising the law to require all buildings at least 75 feet tall to have sprinklers, regardless of when they were built.

Daley said that installing sprinklers in older buildings would cost between $2 and $5 per square foot, and that owners could expect to recoup the cost of installing the sprinklers in five to 10 years because of a significant reduction in insurance premiums.

Daly said the cost of installing sprinklers in new single-family homes is about 1% of total construction costs, the equivalent of the cost of an average lawn sprinkler system or carpeting.

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