Update on Philadelphia Sprinkler Retrofit Bill

CAI has been monitoring legislation in the City of Philadelphia that would require the retrofit of all high-rise buildings (buildings higher than 75 feet) in the city to provide for in-unit fire suppression sprinklers. The Bill has been on hold for many months, but that is now changing. Philadelphia City Councilmember Mark Squilla plans to hold a Licenses and Inspections Committee hearing on in February 2023 to hear Bill 220299. As you know this legislation and its requirements are incredibly costly to building owners, homeowners and residents, not to mention the temporary displacement of owners and tenants. 

While installing a sprinkler system in a new construction represents as little as one percent of the total construction cost, retrofitting an existing building is a significant difference with costs in the tens of thousands of dollars per unit. Based on National Fire Sprinkler Association estimates, retrofitting a 400,000 sq. ft. high-rise building runs anywhere between $800,000 to $4 million, roughly beginning at $12,700 per unit. These figures do not include the relocation of owners and tenants that leads to loss of goodwill, logistical problems for maintenance, rising costs of gas, supply chain issues, and burdensome labor costs. This figure also does not consider the costs associated with potential disturbance or exposure to dormant encapsulated asbestos or lead. Compliance with all of the existing and proposed pieces of legislation would further erode the stock of affordable housing in Philadelphia and drastically increase management costs that in turn directly impacts homeowners in the more than 100 high rise condominium buildings in Philadelphia.

If you are interested in testifying at the upcoming hearing, which will be held virtually, please contact Tony Campisi at: tony@caikeystone.org. as soon as possible. Please include your full name, email, and phone number. You will also be required to submit your testimony in writing in advance.