By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Fire sprinkler systems have been installed in condominium and apartment buildings for the past several decades. In the past few weeks there have been several reports of fires in older multifamily housing structures, including condominiums, that resulted in fatalities and personal injury of residents. The older buildings were constructed in the 1970s -1980s, without fire sprinkler systems.
There has been quite a bit of controversy about whether or not older condo associations should be forced to retrofit fire sprinkler systems. Proponents of fire sprinkler system say they suppress progression of fire from one unit to another, preventing rapid spread of fire and saving lives in the process.
Opponents say the cost to retrofit is too high for owners on fixed incomes, and the added fire suppression benefits are minimal.
Well, the following report from WXIA in Atlanta throws yet another variable into the debate.
Fire sprinkler pipes made of plastic may be prone to premature failure, resulting in significant water damage from flooding.
Of course, wherever there is excessive moisture, there is also an increased likelihood of growth of harmful mold. Mitigation of mold is a costly undertaking, a cost that is usually not covered by insurance policies.
Condo owners say the board at Twelve Centennial Park is very slow to respond to their concerns following a fire sprinkler water supply pipe on the 16th floor that burst nearly three months ago.
Residents concerned for health, HOA response after condo floods for second time in years
Melissa Lee and Adrianne Haney, WXIA 6:52 PM. EDT July 21, 2017
ATLANTA — Residents are demanding answers after a sprinkler pipe burst and flooded the inside of a popular Downtown Atlanta condominium community, not once, but twice in the past three years.
People living in at Twelve Centennial Park are not only concerned about the mold that they say is now growing inside their homes, but they also say they’re being forced to pay out of pocket for the repairs.
The pipe that burst most recently in May wasn’t located in a unit. It’s in the stairwell of the 11th floor, and as part of the condo’s main infrastructure, residents say it should be covered by the building’s insurance policy.
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Once again, condo owners face insurance industry runaround and bureaucratic nightmare. Owners says the clean up process has been botched, due to the fact that wooden floors have been allowed to remain in place, soaked with water. That provided the perfect environment for mold to grow, threatening the health and welfare of condo residents.
As is typical after these events occur, the Association begins looking for ways to cost-shift the repair and replacement of poor quality pipes to individual homeowners.
The irony is that a fire suppression system that was intended to help owners is instead a major liability.