November 7, 2019


FACTSS FILES CHALLENGE TO ELSS SPRINKLER REQUIREMENT


FACTSS, the Florida Association of Condominiums To Support Self-Determination, Inc., filed a request for a declaratory statement from the Florida Fire Marshal to validate requiring sprinklers as part of the Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) requirement. 

The main question posed to the State Fire Marshal is this: “ Under what authority can the State and/or local Fire Marshal require a fire sprinkler system, whether in the units or in common areas, as part of an ELSS if the association followed the proper procedures outlined in statute and opted out of retrofitting sprinklers anywhere on its association property?” 


This challenge is in response to FACTSS member associations throughout the state being told by their local fire marshals that pursuant to the fire code adopted by the State of Florida, they may be obligated to install fire sprinklers as part of an ELSS. Many associations are being told by the local fire marshal that their ELSS plans would not be approved if it did not include a sprinkler system. 


Click on the link for a copy of the PETITION FOR A DECLARATORY STATEMENT BEFORE THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES


Associations affected by ELSS are those whose owners voted to opt-out of retrofitting their entire building under state law passed in 2010. Owners had until 2016 to conduct the opt-out vote. FACTSS’ argument is basically that if associations voted to opt-out of sprinkler under state law, then an administrative decision by the State Fire Marshal cannot overrule state law by mandating fire sprinklers. 


If you have not joined this battle to save your association millions of dollars in special assessments for fire sprinklers, please join FACTSS today and help wage this battle to give our associations the right to self-determination across Florida. Thru the efforts of FACTSS, the deadline for implementation of ELSS was extended from December 31, 2019 to January 1, 2024 

Annual Update

  

ANNUAL REPORT – FACTSS – 2018-2019 FISCAL YEAR


Just one year ago, FACTSS was created out of a necessity to fight the mandate from Tallahassee for our associations to install an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS). During the year, we accomplished much – against the unlimited money of those who stand to make millions from our owners – contractors, engineers, fire sprinkler corporations. FACTSS won a 4-year delay in the implementation for ELSS – from December 2019 to January 1, 2024. The 4-year delay of the former 2019 requirement will be seen by your owners as money well spent in joining FACTSS.


However, we cannot stand by the next four years and do nothing.We must stop this egregious overreach by the state fire marshal. These decisions belong in the hands of owners, not legislators. Owners voted whether or not to retrofit fire sprinklers – they should have the same right to vote on ELSS. 


We demonstrated our power in Tallahassee through our emails, testimony and legislative representation. That all takes money. We need the funds now to continue this battle. We have the momentum. 

WE ARE ASKING ASSOCIATIONS TO JOIN FACTSS WITH A $1,000 CONTRIBUTION.  A $1,000 membership contribution is insignificant compared to the hundreds of thousands it could cost your association. There are times in life one has to risk a few dollars in order to save hundreds of thousands in the future. 


FACTSS is a registered, not-for-profit Florida Corporation and is an IRS 501C (7) non-profit organization. It has three officers, and no officer or anyone associated with FACTSS receives compensation. All our volunteers and work free. 

All membership funds are directed toward the primary objective of FACTSS: Provide Associations the right to vote whether or not they want to install an ELSS in their member buildings. Below is a chart showing how membership dues were spent last year. 

  

The bulk of our funds was spent on our legislative efforts in Tallahassee, working to get our bills, House bill HR 647 and Senate Bill 1152, adopted. HB 647 passed the House by a vote of 103 yes and 7 no. SB 1152 was killed in the senate Rules Committee after being approved 8 yes and 1 no in another committee. 

This battle against us is being waged by a very powerful, well-funded sprinkler lobby. To them it is millions in revenues – out of our pockets. Last year when it looked as if we would win, they hired a high-priced lobbying firm to aid them. If we have any chance against this group, FACTSS needs funds and participation from the 4,300 associations affected. 


We will never have as much money as the fire sprinkler corporations, but with adequate funds, we can do battle with them and we can win. However, we can’t win without YOU and YOUR ASSOCIATION. 



Pio Ieraci

President, FACTSS

image1

ELSS Update

  

July 19, 2019


A SUCCESSFUL YEAR – BUT THERE'S MORE WORK TO DO


FACTSS (Florida Association of Condominiums to Support Self-Determination) had a successful legislative year in Tallahassee. From a humble beginning in October 2018 and against special interests that stand to make billions of dollars from fire sprinkler installations, FACTSS was able to get relief for those associations across Florida who opted-out of fire sprinklers. 


Our stated goal is to get an exemption, allowing owners to vote to opt-out of the installation of an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS), which is a buzz word for sprinklers. Thanks to the tireless efforts of State Representative Michael Grieco and State Senator Jason Pizzo, legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to accomplish this. House bill HB 647 and Senate bill SB 1152 gave association owners the ability to vote to opt-out of ELSS, similar to the vote to opt-out of fire sprinklers. FACTSS appreciates the additional support and commitment from the House and Senate leadership on moving our bills forward. 


HB 647 was approved by three House committees, and the full House voted in support by a vote of 103-7. SB 1152 was approved by one committee (vote of 8-1), but stalled in the Senate, thus died.  Ultimately, the language in HB 647 was amended, sent to the Senate for a vote, the language was stripped from the bill and new language was added which provided for a4-year delay of the implementation of ELSS and required the state fire marshal to compile a list of associations who opted-out of fire sprinklers. HB 7103 (with our compromise language) was approved by the House (66-42) and the Senate (26-13) and signed by the governor on June 28. The effective date of the 4-year delay is July 1, 2019, delaying ELSS implementation until January 1, 2024.


While the forces against us were overwhelming, we did achieve victory.  This gives us time to continue to challenge this unfair and unfunded mandate from the state fire marshal’s office. Associations will not face a December 31, 2019 deadline to spend millions of dollars to install an ELSS. Our members will not face huge assessments and the possibility of being displaced from their homes over this issue. 


Our successes can be attributed to many individuals, but most importantly, the member associations of FACTSS and the owners, who sent thousands of emails to the State legislature and governor on this issue. Ellyn Bogdanoff, FACTSS’ government relations representative, worked tirelessly to educate legislators on the importance of this issue to thousands of Florida owners, and to get our bills passed by the legislature. “No issue has received more emails than the ELSS issue,” stated Bogdanoff, “Everywhere I went, legislators were saying how many emails they received.” Job well done FACTSS members. 


FACTSS President, Pio Ieraci, traveled to Tallahassee to testify before committees and individually meet with state legislators and the legislative leadership. There were also meetings with the Governor’s staff on our issue. One of our resident members, Jim Van Drunen, a retired fire chief, also testified before a committee, telling them, “High-rise fire deaths are virtually unheard of in Florida.  The ‘ELSS’ law is not about safety, it’s about money, in my opinion, and it is huge overkill for massive profits for unions and contractors. I see it as a solution in search of a problem.”


With one victory under our belt, there is more work to be done over the next four years to get the opt-out of ELSS that FACTSS is committed to achieving. We need more members and we need the resources to continue this fight. Everyone needs to understand that battles like this one do not occur because we are right or the good guys. It takes financial resources to protect and defend our right to self-determination.

WE NEED YOU. WE NEED YOUR VOICE AND YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT.  We’re ready for round 2 – join with us and stay tuned for more updates. 




June 28, 2019

 

GOVERNOR DESANTIS SIGNS HB 7103
 

Today (June 28), Governor DeSantis signed  into law HB 7103.  The new law contains language that delays  implementation of ELSS until 2024 and calls for identifying all  buildings in Florida who opted-out of fire sprinklers – with a report to  be sent to the governor and state legislature. 
 

This is a major victory for FACTSS and all its members who have sent  emails and followed the issue over the past two years.  “We are pleased  the governor signed the bill and now over 4,300 high-rise condominium  and cooperative associations are no longer under pressure to install an  ELSS,” stated FACTSS President Pio Ieraci.  “I want to personally thank  Governor DeSantis for his support of our issue and concerns for  thousands of association residents who would be financially impacted if  this bill had not become law.”
 

This gives us time to continue to challenge this unfair and unfunded  mandate from the state fire marshal’s office.  Associations will not  face a December 31, 2019 deadline to spend millions of dollars to  install an Engineered Life Safety System.  Our members will not face  huge assessments and the possibility of being displaced from their homes  over this issue. 




June 27, 2019


HB 7103 NOW BEFORE GOVERNOR DESANTIS
 

HB 7103 – which contains language that delays implementation of ELSS  until 2024 and calls for identifying all buildings in Florida who  opted-out of fire sprinklers – was sent today (6/26) by the legislative  leadership to Governor DeSantis.  The governor has 30 days to either  sign the bill, veto  the bill or allow it to become law without his signature.  There have  been some newspaper editorials against HB 7103 as well as some  environmental groups – but totally unrelated to our issue. 
 

It is vital the governor hear from us about ELSS.  PLEASE EMAIL Governor DeSantis and ask him to SIGN HB 7103 and provide us relief from ELSS implementation. 
 

Ron.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com

Click on the governor’s email address – which will create your email with the standard message.  You can use to the standard message or revise it.  Add your name, address, phone number and building name with the number of units in the building (ABC Condo – 423 units).
 




May 16, 2019


LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH YOUR MANAGERS, BOARD MEMBERS AND OWNERS IMMEDIATELY.
 

The amendment to delay the implementation of ELSS was rolled into a  larger bill in the State Senate, HB 7103, a bill that deals with  community development and housing. 
Now HB 7103 – which contains language that delays implementation of ELSS  until 2024 and calls for identifying all buildings in Florida who  opted-out of fire sprinklers – is before Governor DeSantis.   When he receives the bill, the governor has 15 days to either sign the  bill, veto the bill or allow it to become law without his signature.   There have been some newspaper editorials against HB 7103 – totally  unrelated to our issue. 
 

It is vital the governor hear from us about ELSS within the next 5 days.  PLEASE EMAIL Governor DeSantis and ask him to SIGN HB 7103 and provide us relief from ELSS implementation. 
 

Ron.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com
 




May 5, 2019


FACTSS-backed Efforts Win A 4-Year Reprieve for ELSS Implementation!
 

In a last-minute maneuver, we were successful in getting our modified  ELSS language attached to a bill in the Senate, and approved by the  House.  The bill now goes to The Governor for his approval. 
 

On May 2 – Sen. Brandes attempted to attach our opt-out of ELSS language  to a bill before the Senate – HB 7103 (which already had been approved  by the House).  Sen Hooper raised a point of order, the amendment had to  be withdrawn because of the objection.  On May 3, Sen. Brandes offered  an amendment to HB 7103 that delays the implementation date to 2024 and  requires a data collection of buildings that opted-out of fire  sprinklers to be shared with The Governor and State Legislature.  This  amendment was accepted and the Senate approved HB 7103 (as amended) by a  vote of 26-13.
 

HB 7103 (as amended) came back to the House for a final vote. It was approved 66-42 and now awaits The Governor’s signature. 
 

While the forces against us were overwhelming, we did achieve victory,  for without the modified language in the bill, ELSS would have to be  implemented by December 31, 2019.  We avoided that.  We extended ELSS  four years – until January 1, 2024 – to give us other opportunities to  change the minds of the state legislators and challenge this unfair  mandate. The data collection will be critical information in helping us  achieve our goals in the future.  This victory keeps us alive to fight  another day. 
 

The end of a legislative session gets somewhat crazy and is hard to  follow and understand.  Our government relations person, Ellyn  Bogdanoff, was there full-time, working the legislative process and  taking every opportunity to achieve our goals.  We will have a final  legislative wrap-up in a few days to explain the new provisions and what  comes next. 







Read This Letter To Get An Inside Perspective of What's Really Happening

February 19, 2019

Jim Van Drunen

Point of Americas I

2100 S. Ocean Lane, #1404

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316


Hello friends and neighbors,

I received your request for my opinion on the major requirement for fire water sprinkler pipes and heads to be installed inside all Florida high-rise condos. Here is my background, and my opinion.

I’m a former Fire Chief, Fire Prevention Officer and former member of the National Fire Protection Association.  I have a degree in Municipal Fire Department Operations, taught classes in fire prevention for two colleges and served as a consultant on fire codes for several municipalities. Firefighting, and fire safety, was my career and my life.  I’m a founder of the Fort Lauderdale Fire & Safety Museum, and live at POA I, where I enjoyed serving on our condo Board for 10 years.  Here are my thoughts on this very important subject.

In 2015 the pipefitter’s union and fire sprinkler contractors “special interests” got a Florida law passed which required all Florida high-rise condos to install fire water sprinklers in all rooms.  Condos were given the power to “opt out” of the sprinklers in all rooms, by a vote of owners. POA I and thousands of other condos overwhelmingly voted to opt-out. The opt-out, however, now requires condos to install an “engineered life safety system” (elss), which reduced the rooms requiring sprinklers to only inside every condo by 2020. This is where the law is today, and for POA I the cost estimate is over $1.6 million, or an average of over $5,500 per unit!

Since all high-rise condos, including ours, have extensive, constantly updated systems that detect heat, smoke and fire, plus fire sprinklers in special areas, plus automatic alarm systems, plus fire walls, plus fire doors (many automatic), plus much more, high-rise fire deaths are virtually unheard of in Florida.  The “elss” law is not about safety, it’s about money, in my opinion, and it is huge overkill for massive profits for unions and contractors. I see it as a solution in search of a problem.

In response to a huge outcry filed by 4,300 condo associations in 2018, our Florida legislature is going to vote soon on HB 647, which will give condo owners the right to vote to “opt-out” of the fire water sprinkler part of “elss”. If it passes, and if owners vote to “opt-out”, POA I will save millions of dollars of special assessment, prevent major dirt and dust debris when our concrete ceilings are jack-hammered open, and prevent the risk of massive accidental flooding (often 15+ gallons per MINUTE) from an open fire water sprinkler head.  If it does not pass, we will suffer all this for a nearly negligible increase in safety, and the increased risk of flooding, in my (and many others) opinion.

To help each of us save from $5,000 to $10,000 of assessment, and a lot of headaches, I invite you to please join me in:

1.   Asking our condo Board members to support an owner’s “opt-out” vote to avoid the installation of fire water sprinklers if the State law passes which allows owners to vote to “opt-out”, and

2.   Please contact the following officials to go on record with "We Support House Bill 647, which allows condos to “opt-out” of the fire water sprinkler part of the “elss” statute", and

3.   Please feel free to forward this to other condo owners in Florida that might like to help prevent this massive waste of money, in my opinion, plus all the problems it will bring.

Thank you.       

(signed)

Jim Van Drunen

p.s. Learn about the 4,300 condos supporting HB 647 at   factss.org

Fort Lauderdale owners, please contact: (as they will be under major opposing pressure from the special interests). (Others; contact local reps.)

Governor Ron DeSantis (850) 717-9337 (press 2)  or 

www.flgov.com (click Contact) Subject: PLEASE SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 647

Representative Chip LaMarca (954) 784-4531  or his aide: samantha.verner@myfloridahouse.gov Subject: PLEASE SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 647

Senator Gary Farmer (954) 467-4227 or his aide:

brown.johnny@flsenate.gov Subject:  PLEASE SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 647


image2

Pio Ieraci talks about FACTSS

Your Resource - Your Voice

FACTSS Is Uniting Condominium Associations Across Florida To Restore Our Self-Determination

image3

FACTSS - Florida Association of Condominiums To Support Self-Determination - is a non-profit membership organization designed  to connect you with peers across Florida. We help you share insights, learn from others' experiences, share tips about best practices and keep you up to date on how to address challenges we all face.  Right now, we all face a BIG one.


The ELSS Requirement

Condominium Associations all over Florida face the compulsory, expensive installation of sprinkler or Engineered Life Safety Systems (ELSS) in their buildings by the end of 2019. FACTSS is bringing together condo associations  to fight this regulation and win back the right to choose for ourselves by joining our voices and funds together.  

Let’s be clear: the Sprinkler /ELSS requirement is NOT about fire safety. It’s all about money and special interests. 


When you join FACTSS, you're taking a positive step to protect your Association from unwarranted restrictions on your rights to self-determination by contributing in a meaningful way to winning back your right to choose whether to install sprinklers/ELSS or not. 

You'll stay informed about the morass of costly red tape we all face, meet your peers and exchange valuable tips, and join your voice to others to help make a change

Why ELSS Is Not A Done Deal

image4

Here’s why FACTSS believes we can overturn the mandatory ELSS requirement before the critical deadline in 2019:

  1. The Bill assuring our right to opt out passed the House UNANIMOUSLY in 2017, with only one dissenter in the Senate. But it was vetoed by the Governor. Now, a new Governor and new Legislature will revisit the issue.
  2. Over 1 million people live in the 4,337 Condos across Florida that opted out of sprinklers in 2016. We are a powerful force for change in Tallahassee.
  3. We have engaged Florida’s largest and most renowned Condominium law firm to engage with legislators to address the unfair imposition of unnecessary expenditures on our Residents. No-one knows more about the issues.
  4. The strategy of building a case and educating the members of the legislature is an important first step.  We have the talking points, the right sponsors, and a statewide voice for the first time. The collective voices of the members of FACTSS are an important component in our formula for success.  
  5. We are building a Statewide grassroots campaign and our members are reaching out to their elected representatives to let them know we will be back in Tallahassee for the 2019 Session. 

However, the issue MUST be decided by May 2019. You can help achieve a positive result by joining now! 

If We Win, You Could Save Over $1,000,000

image5

In 2016, over 4,300 Florida Condominium Associations, after careful consideration of their own structures – OPTED OUT of having to install sprinkler systems when they were given the choice by the Florida Legislature. But that choice was taken away when Special Interests persuaded the Governor to veto a bill guaranteeing opt-out rights. 


Why Associations Opted Out

There are good reasons why so many Associations chose to opt out. It's estimated that installation of sprinklers/ELSS will cost more than $1 million per high-rise condo building, and sprinklers are not necessarily a good choice for every building. This is a decision that is best made by each Association. Join us in trying to win back your right to choose.


Membership Costs and Benefits

Charter Membership in FACTSS is a one-time fee of $1,000. Our mission is to educate, communicate and unite our Members in a friendly coalition where we all help each other to produce better outcomes for our Associations. It's also to invest in the marketing, legal and political help we need to overturn the ELSS requirement.


Upon joining, you'll become an automatic member of our Advisory Board. Members get to connect with their peers and share best practices, vendor recommendations, plus insights on how to address  a variety of challenges - from what color to paint your building, to hurricane planning procedures, to dealing with ELSS.  Members also get the inside scoop on what’s happening with legislative battles so they can make important planning decisions.