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 Sen Hooper raised a point of order, the amendment had to be withdrawn because of the objection.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: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: PLEASE SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 647
Senator Gary Farmer (954) 467-4227 or his aide:
email@example.com 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.