Old building code did not require Belmont Avenue apartment to have sprinklers

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The deadly fire at a Springfield apartment building over the weekend claimed the life of two children and their father.The four story apartment building was built in 1925, before building code mandated a sprinkler or fire suppression system.

3 dead, 4 in hospital after fire at apartment building on Belmont Avenue in Springfield

New building code requires fire sprinklers for dwellings of more than three units but older buildings like the apartment on Belmont Avenue are grandfathered in under the old code unless the landlord chooses to renovate.Andrew Crane of the Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of western Massachusetts told 22News new buildings are built using fire stops.Essentially blocks that resist fire from shooting up gaps in walls between the sheetrock and the studs.“Multiple layers of floor systems then walls,” Crane explained. “Every hole that is drilled into wood for plumbing and electric has to be fire caulked or foamed so that air and fire can’t travel through the wall cavity as quickly. The types of materials, you can buy fireproof lumbers now.”Single family homeowners can get fire suppression systems installed but at $8,000 for the average home, it’s costly.Those systems also need to be inspected annually.And while this building did not have the fire sprinklers, it did have a central alarm system that immediately alerted firefighters to the emergency.

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