Just two-and-a-half months after a fire killed eight senior citizens in the Wedgwood residential high-rise in Castle Hills, Texas Representative Rick Galindo has filed a bill that he says will prevent similar tragedies. HB 3089 would require all residential high-rise buildings in Texas to be fully retrofitted with fire sprinklers by September 1, 2021.
Common Voices, an advocates’ coalition supporting people impacted by fire, is chamioning the bill. “These tragic events are preventable. Even if a fire starts, technology exists and current codes should be in place to make sure people don’t die and that they aren’t physically and emotionally scarred for life,” explained Common Voices advocate and Houston resident Justina Page, who lost her 22-month-old son in a fire in 1999. “Why do we have to have tragedy after tragedy when we know what can solve our fire problem? Fire sprinklers are needed today.”
According to Page, flashover, the point where everything in a room ignites in flames, can occur in three minutes or less. Fire sprinklers stop a fire while it is small, preventing flashover and keeping a fire from spreading.
Galindo’s bill would define a high-rise as a building standing 75 feet above the ground or taller.
Castle Hills began requiring sprinklers in 2012, but The Wedwgood residnetial high-rise was not equipped with a sprinkler system because it was grandfathered in.
Galindo said: “I’m very convinced — we’re all very convinced — that sprinklers are the only significant safety measures that can improve the survivability of seniors in these buildings.”