Minnesota House passes public high rise sprinkler requirement bill

The Minnesota House voted to require automatic sprinklers in public housing high-rises by 2033 Monday.

It passed with a vote of 103-30 in the House Monday. Rep. Mohamud Noor, who authored the bill, thanked the bipartisan group of colleagues who voted to pass it. 

The bill requires existing buildings that are 75 feet or higher (around 7 floors) to install fully operational sprinklers by Aug. 1, 2033 among other measures. 

A similar bill advanced out of a Senate committee last Wednesday. The Senate Labor and Industry Policy committee approved the bill that would require all qualifying buildings to install the automatic sprinkler systems by 2033.

"It is a long time out," said State Sen. Kari Dziedzic of the 2033 deadline. "We’re hoping they move quicker, but it was a balancing act in picking a date."

The fire started in an apartment on the 14th floor of a high-rise apartment building in Cedar-Riverside and it spread to the hallway.

Dziedzic, a Democrat, is the sponsor of the bill. It stems from a 2019 Thanksgiving fire in a Cedar-Riverside high rise that left 5 dead and four others injured. The cause of the fire was "undetermined." 

State Fire Marshal Jim Smith said automatic sprinkler systems would have contained or extinguished the Thanksgiving fire. A 2020 report made the same determination. 

"The fire started accidentally, soon growing to mammoth proportions," said Smith to the Senate committee Wednesday. "In some cases, impossible to escape. This disastrous fire would have been contained, extinguished by an automatic sprinkler system."

A total of 26 buildings in Minneapolis would be affected by the bill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will be the next body to take up the bill.