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Subject: Is HOA Responsible for Fire Sprinkler Inspection
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AndersH
(Arizona)

Posts:27


05/13/2019 6:20 PM  
We are a 108-Unit, 27 Buildings Condo Community in Arizona. Each condo has its own controlled sprinkler system. Our city-code for the fire sprinkler system use the National Standard Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) Section 25 for the code. Checking our CC&R's we do not find anything about the responsibility for the fire sprinkler system. From the NFPA it looks like the fire sprinkler system should be inspected and tested every year. The question now has come up: Who is responsible for the inspection and testing? The individual CONDO OWNERS or the HOA. In any case, the condo owners will pay the cost but it is a saving if the HOA arranges the inspection and testing as it can be done at the same time. Having the HOA coordinate the inspection and testing is probably the most common way to get it done. On the other hand, if the HOA does not want to take on the liability, they could probably ask each condo owner to take care of his/her own fire sprinkler inspection and testing. We have shifted the responsibility from the HOA to the condo owner for other similar items. Using our CC&R's which defines the fire sprinkler system as a "Limited Common Element" and the Arizona Revised Statues (ARS) which reads "Any common expense associated with the maintenance, repair or replacement of a limited common element shall be equally assessed against the units to which the limited common element is assigned". I this case, when the Limited Common Element is separate belongs to one unit, it would be the responsibility of the unit owner.
To repeat: Should the inspection and testing of our Fire Sprinkler System be on the HOA or on each Owner taking care of their own?

Your input will be highly appreciated.
Anders
RoyalP


Posts:0


05/13/2019 8:19 PM  
The system is the responsibility of the HOA.

While individual 'heads' may serve a particular unit the SYSTEM serves to protect all units within a building.

The control valve(s) serve all units within a building.

The alarm serves all units within a building.

The fire suppression water system supply serves all units within a building.

The HOA already has the liability whether it 'wants it' or not.

Check with the HOA's insurer.
AndersH
(Arizona)

Posts:27


05/14/2019 7:11 AM  
Thank you RoyalP,
If it makes any difference, our setup is maybe unique. I will explain by commenting to your replay:

While individual 'heads' may serve a particular unit the SYSTEM serves to protect all units within a building.
COMMENTS:
1. Each unit has its own fire sprinkler system.
2. Water to units fire sprinkler comes from unit's water meter.
3. Master turn-off valve for each unit turns off all water for the unit including the water for the fire sprinkler belonging to the unit.

The control valve(s) serve all units within a building.
COMMENTS:
1. There are 4 units for each building.
2. Each unit has its own master turn-off valve. The units master turn-off valve turns off the water for the unit, including the water for the unit's fire sprinkler.
3. Each unit has its own fire sprinkler control box consisting of a flow control switch, a pressure gauge, a pressure relief valve and a flow test valve.

The alarm serves all units within a building.
COMMENTS:
1. Each unit has an alarm bell mounted on the outside of unit's garage.
2. The alarm bell monitors the fire sprinkler for that unit's fire sprinkler.

The fire suppression water system supply serves all units within a building.
COMMENTS:
1. The fire suppression water for each unit comes from unit's water meter.
2. The water for each unit's water meter comes from the water company's water supply to the community.

Best regards,
Anders
AugustinD


Posts:1886


05/14/2019 7:27 AM  
Anders, thanks for elaborating on the setup. Based on your covenants and Arizona law, I think each unit owner is responsible for testing as required by code. On the other hand, who is responsible for the roofs of the buildings? Roofs are threatened by fire. If the roofs are a HOA responsibility to maintain, and as the sprinkler system is so vital to the safety of other units, I'd check with the HOA's insurer. I have seen HOA insurers require (or strongly recommend?) condos to have individual owners provide proof of inspection/testing yada of their units' chimneys. I can see having a similar requirement for the sprinkler systems.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:338


05/14/2019 8:48 AM  
In my condo community, the sprinkler systems are considered Common Elements, and the association inspects/repairs annually. The local fire department also inspects the controls located in closets on the outside of the buildings, and they will fine us if things aren't working properly.
RoyalP


Posts:0


05/14/2019 10:04 AM  
Posted By AndersH on 05/14/2019 7:11 AM
Thank you RoyalP,
If it makes any difference, our setup is maybe unique. I will explain by commenting to your replay:

While individual 'heads' may serve a particular unit the SYSTEM serves to protect all units within a building.
COMMENTS:
1. Each unit has its own fire sprinkler system.
2. Water to units fire sprinkler comes from unit's water meter.
3. Master turn-off valve for each unit turns off all water for the unit including the water for the fire sprinkler belonging to the unit.

The control valve(s) serve all units within a building.
COMMENTS:
1. There are 4 units for each building.
2. Each unit has its own master turn-off valve. The units master turn-off valve turns off the water for the unit, including the water for the unit's fire sprinkler.
3. Each unit has its own fire sprinkler control box consisting of a flow control switch, a pressure gauge, a pressure relief valve and a flow test valve.

The alarm serves all units within a building.
COMMENTS:
1. Each unit has an alarm bell mounted on the outside of unit's garage.
2. The alarm bell monitors the fire sprinkler for that unit's fire sprinkler.

The fire suppression water system supply serves all units within a building.
COMMENTS:
1. The fire suppression water for each unit comes from unit's water meter.
2. The water for each unit's water meter comes from the water company's water supply to the community.

Best regards,
Anders




Y'all have a 'residential suppression system' for each unit. as such it would be each units responsibility to maintain. HOWEVER It would be MUCH cheaper to have a 'master contract' covering all units.


? Do you not have protection for hallways, stairways, attic space(s), or ANY common element(s) ?


..... 3. Master turn-off valve for each unit turns off all water for the unit including the water for the fire sprinkler belonging to the unit. .....


The problem is that any shut-down for plumbing work compromises the entire building's fire suppression capability as a residential system is designed for 'stand alone' homes.

eg. the shut-down unit burns out of control - fire is now way way to large for another unit's sprinkler system to 'cope' - entire building is lost


As a residential system a water shut-down 'should' require a fire watch for the duration of the shut-down, else no 'proper' fire suppression system for the other units.
AndersH
(Arizona)

Posts:27


05/14/2019 6:52 PM  
Thanks again RoyalP,
I think we have a handle on it. We will follow up by checking with our HOA's insurance company, etc.
Best regards,
Anders
JeffT2
(Iowa)

Posts:479


05/15/2019 5:07 PM  
Here is my understanding:

A Limited Common Element is a type of Common Element, and as such they do not "belong" to the unit.

The Arizona statute that you quoted says who pays for the maintenance, not who performs the maintenance. The statute implies that maintenance can be done by the association (and the cost assessed to owners). Is there an Arizona law that assigns maintenance of limited common elements to unit owners?

You indicated that Checking our CC&R's we do not find anything about the responsibility for the fire sprinkler system. If your CCRs are silent on maintenance, then the association must maintain the sprinklers, since they are a limited common element for which maintenance has not been assigned to the unit owner.

The board cannot assign maintenance of a common element (even if it is a limited common element) to unit owners unless that is already stated in your documents.

Asking the owners to do the inspection also means it won't happen for many units. In many documents the board has authority to take on maintenance tasks that are necessary for safety or that owners fail to do.
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:3781


05/15/2019 5:13 PM  
The owners ARE the HOA. They are paying for one way or the other.

Two ways you can handle this, one, If you have a twin town condo with 211 units and it costs $100 each unit, raise everyone's dues $10.00 per month, or, two, bill each owner $100.00 the month the inspection is done.

Been there, Done that
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