Foodservice Equipment Reports

Sprinklers Not Necessary In Walk-Ins

The smoke has cleared in Albuquerque, N.M., and existing foodservice operators can breathe a little easier. They won’t have to add sprinkler systems to their restaurants, including their walk-in coolers and freezers. A proposed ordinance would have required all buildings under its purview to have completed retrofits as of next July, but the city council has amended it to apply only to new construction.

The Sprinkler Compromise Ordinance negotiated by the New Mexico Restaurant Association will exempt existing buildings from the requirement to install fire suppressant sprinklers in public areas. The ordinance was passed June 20, 2011.

The NMRA said the fight over the ordinance is a prime example of overregulation that costs businesses money. Business owners testified that full retrofits, including coolers and freezers, would cost between $60,000 and $100,000.

Coolers and walk-in freezers are not specifically mentioned in the 2003 International Fire Code but are cited in the National Fire Protection Association standards for installing sprinkler systems. It states: "This standard contemplates full sprinkler protection for all areas, including walk-in coolers, freezers, bank vaults and similar areas.”

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