Chip Merlin recently authored several blog articles on the increased risks of fires this time of year. In Thanksgiving Day is the Number One Fire Insurance Claim Day and A Touching Thanksgiving Day Fire Follow-up, he discussed the increased risks of kitchen fires, and in Christmas Trees Don’t Cause Fire Insurance Claims, he gave tips for avoiding fires with Christmas trees. As important as it is for each of us to recognize these risks for our own residences, that importance is multiplied for condominium associations and owners of other multiunit residential properties.

Last December, the Florida Legislature passed the Aldridge-Benge Firefighter Safety Act, aimed at increasing safety for fire-fighting personnel at buildings like condominiums that use light-frame truss-type construction. The Act, found in Florida Statute § 633.027, imposes special notice requirements on commercial, industrial, and multiunit residential structures with three or more units that use light-frame truss-type construction. The Act is named after two Orange County firefighters who lost their lives fighting a fire in a building with light-frame truss-type construction, when the roof collapsed on them unexpectedly because fire-weakened trusses were unable to support the weight of the roof. The statute is meant to provide notice to firefighters and emergency responders of similar dangerous conditions that may exist in the event of a fire.

The Act requires signage on buildings with truss construction that complies with the State Fire Marshall rules found in Florida Administrative Code Rule 69A-60-0081. Here is a sample of the symbols that must be displayed if required by this code:

If a condominium association fails to display the proper signage, the Fire Marshall may issue several orders, including an order to vacate the premises. If that order is not followed, the person who fails to comply with the order will be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Hopefully this signage will have the desired effect and prevent future deaths. For additional reading on fire safety, the rest of the Fire Marshall Rules can be found here in the Florida Administrative Code.