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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 116718
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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I am in Massachusetts and the trustee of a 41 unit

Customer Question

I am in Massachusetts and the trustee of a 41 unit residential building in Boston built in 1926. The building was built with a sprinkler system. somewhere before 1985 the system was shut down. 2 years ago we were contacted by the fire department and informed it had to be made operational which we did. We also changed all of the sprinkler heads and added a backflow preventer . They now require a hydrostatic test of the system. the system came up 3 pounds short of the NAFA requirement.Our sprinkler company engineer has opined that we meet the NFPA fire code if we change the heads to quick response heads. However, it a ppears that the fire department wants the system to meet NAFA standars plus 10 pounds which we cannot do without replacing the end pipes in the ceiling of eac unit. If we rip open the ceilings the fire department want a full pumper brigade on site @ $2500/day. 20 days work would cost $50k which on top of the work the property can't afford. Can they make us comply with the latest code? We have not done any rehab to the building or sprinklers and plan none. We are currently in housing court where they are tring to force us to do work but have never specified which code to us-only to our last sprinkler company. Is there an appeal process from orders of the Fire Department or is it directly to the court?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Unfortunately, while at one point you may have been grandfathered, once work is done to the system the fire department can legally require that the system be brought to the current code and those grandfather rights are lost. This is the issue with these old buildings, as long as everything is working you can claim grandfather rights, but once you engage in repairs, those repairs must bring the system into compliance with the current codes and they can force you to do so.

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