Council discusses new sprinkler system after fatal fire - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Council discusses new sprinkler system after fatal fire

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PALMER, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

Prompted by a fatal fire earlier this year, Palmer Town Councilors are looking to enact a local option law that would require sprinkler systems in certain buildings.

First responders battled a blaze that ripped through a building on Pleasant Street in Palmer. A 53-year-old woman lost her life.

"We saw flames and a baby was thrown out. A neighbor went and got the baby a blanket," said one neighbor.

Officials say it was preventable. The apartment didn't have a sprinkler system.

"I felt bad for the families, police officers, the firefighters, EMT's, everyone involved was affected that night. It stays with you. I have to bring it forward," said Palmer Fire Chief Alan Roy.

Roy says the fire department is finding it hard to find new recruits, both full time and part-time. That's why he feels sprinkler systems are needed. 

"Especially with the reduction of firefighting forces, sprinkler systems are like having firefighters on duty 24/7 in your house," said Roy.

The local option law would require sprinkler systems in all new dwellings with four or more units. All existing boarding, lodging and rooming houses with more than five units will have to install sprinklers within five years.

"I guess the push back is always cost.That's the bottom line. But, I don't know how you can put a price tag on a life."

It's because tragedies like the one on Pleasant Street that Roy is calling on the community to make a difference.

"It was horrible. It was like crawling out of hell. I couldn't see...couldn't breathe," said one neighbor. 

Other communities like Easthampton, Agawam, and Amherst, have adopted parts of the law.

The Council has decided to move the order forward.

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