Fire Suppression in Annapolis
The Capital said it in Friday's paper, and I would like to affirm it and add to it here: The City Council and Mayor absolutely have to find a way to get sprinkler systems installed throughout the commercial corridor of historic Annapolis.
Sure, there will be some complaints from property owners, a share of whom work to extract as much as they can from their multi-million dollar property without having to maintain their aging structures. And, no doubt, there will be concerns from tenants about increases in rent. These objections are legitimate and deserve consideration, but in my estimation, they take a back seat to the fact that a significant blaze or two could destroy everything in Annapolis that so many forward thinking people have done over the past 300 centuries to preserve. There's no question that Annapolis is more than old buildings, but there's also little question that if Annapolis consisted largely of architecture like the modern entrants on Main Street and the Bank of America building on Church Circle the City would be poorer off for it, and its appeal would suffer.
All of this is to say nothing of the benefits to human safety that accrue from mandating the installation of sprinklers. For instance, in Scottsdale, Arizona, where sprinklers have been mandated for 15 years, the City has seen the civilian fire fatality rate reduced by a minimum of 50 percent [pdf], and millions of dollars in cost savings as a result of the absence of fire-related interruptions in commerce.
This is an idea whose time came a decade or two ago, and is well past overdue. Requiring sprinklers will allow property owners to convert their second and third floors to residential space, will dramatically decrease the likelihood of a catastrophic fire in the district, and will help enhance and protect our gem of a City for the next 300 years.