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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL)

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House Commerce Committee Approves Legislation Requiring High-Rise Buildings be Retrofitted with Automatic Sprinklers

Thursday, February 11, 2021

St. Paul, Minnesota — Yesterday, the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee passed legislation authored by State Representative Mohamud Noor (DFL – Minneapolis) to require automatic sprinkler systems in nearly all existing high-rise buildings. Rep. Noor introduced the bill in response to a fatal fire in the Cedar High Apartments two years ago. 

On November 25th, 2019, a fire broke out on the upper floors of the Cedar High Apartments (owned by Minneapolis Public Housing), killing five people. It took firefighters 14 minutes to arrive on the scene. This was a fast response, but had there been an automatic sprinkler system, deaths could have been prevented. 

“Our community lost so much during the fire and we continue to reel from it two years later. But, in the face of such devastation, what stood out to me was the heroism of our brave firefighters and first responders, who put their lives on the line to save lives and to contain the fire. Our community and neighbors came together to offer support, shelter, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.” said Rep. Noor. “It has been my priority to ensure health and safety for all high-rise buildings. My new H.F.109 bill will work to ensure this tragedy does not happen again.”

The bill would require existing buildings that are 75 feet or higher (typically seven floors or more), and have at least one story used for human occupancy, to install fully operational sprinklers by August 1, 2032. This bill also provides the option for the Dept. of Labor and Industry to appoint a working group to advise the department on applications for possible extensions.

“We owe it to the families of those we lost in the Cedar Apartments, and to the firefighters who have had to respond to far too many of these incidents, to take action,” said Rep. Noor. “Sprinklers are a simple, highly-effective tool that should be fully-employed in all high-rises, new and old. Minnesotans deserve to feel secure in their homes – we can help ensure they do by being prepared and avoiding preventable tragedy.” 

The bill, which passed on a 11-7 vote and will be referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy for further action.