January 7, 2020
I want to update you on the ELSS issue as we begin 2020.
As you know, FACTSS filed a petition for a Declaratory Statement with the Department of Financial Services (where the Fire Marshal is located) asking for a response basically explaining where the state fire marshal and the local fire marshals get the authority to require sprinklers as part of an ELSS installation. Our position is the state legislature gave condominiums and coops the right to vote to opt-out of fire sprinklers. Over 4,300 associations voted to opt-out. How can the fire marshal now require sprinklers when the state legislature gave us the right to vote to opt-out. A copy of the petition for a Declaratory Statement can be found on our website: factss.org
Now our opponents, the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association, through the high-priced law firm they hired, has filed a Motion to Dismiss FACTSS’ declaratory petition. Their real motive comes out in their stated reasons for dismissal. Their motion states: “Thus, the result is that the Petition for Declaratory Statement, as framed by FACTSS, creates a direct economic injury in-fact to the Fire Sprinkler Association’s members who provide retrofitting and installation services of fire sprinkler systems.” Their membership contains “any person, firm, or corporation, trade association, or professional society engaged in the sale, design, installation, maintenance, promotion, and/or regulation of fire sprinkler systems of their components….”
NOW WE KNOW. It’s NOT about fire safety. It’s about MONEY. Always has been and still is. It’s about billions of dollars they will make if the 4,300 associations who opted-out of sprinklers are now required to install them. Their “membership” will get those billions from our association owners and members. It’s that simple.
We were the David vs Goliath in the last state legislative session – and we won a 4-year extension of the ELSS implementation. FACTSS is not about to give up on our primary goal: Giving each association the right to vote whether or not to install fire sprinklers in their building.
Pio Ieraci, FACTSS President
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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: email@example.com Subject: PLEASE SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 647
Senator Gary Farmer (954) 467-4227 or his aide:
firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: PLEASE SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 647
Pio Ieraci talks about FACTSS
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
Here’s why FACTSS believes we can overturn the mandatory ELSS requirement before the critical deadline in 2019:
However, the issue MUST be decided by May 2019. You can help achieve a positive result by joining now!
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.