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Wisconsin officials can no longer enforce fire sprinklers rule

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A fire sprinkler rule for some apartment buildings in Wisconsin cannot be enforced.

Builders will no longer be required to put sprinklers in apartment buildings with fewer than 20 units.

After months of trying to convince state leaders to keep the rule in place, area firefighters say the decision will put people at risk.

The Department of Safety and Family Services say its now optional for apartment buildings between three and 20 units to have sprinklers.

Nearly 80 fire chiefs from across the state went to Madison earlier this year to argue changing the rule could jeopardize the safety of families and firefighters.

State Law only requires sprinklers in buildings with more than 20 units. DSPS says they can no longer enforce the rule, because it’s more strict than what the state requires.

The decision is a disappointment for area fire departments who say sprinklers act as an in-home firefighter.

“I feel like we went through a lot of trouble to get our voices heard and then it didn’t accomplish anything. It’s unfortunate that they’ve taken the approach that they have and I wish that they had not,” said Chief Rob Ugaste with the Wauwatosa Fire Department.

DSPS recently sent a letter to the Wisconsin Attorney General for a formal opinion.

The Wisconsin Builders Association is happy with this decision. They said the rule increase construction costs. Below is the statement released by the Association;

"We are hopeful that the rule of law prevails on this issue, and the state statutes are the true law of the land and are not superseded by administrative rules that do not have as much review and scrutiny as state statutes."

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