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LIS NEWS AND NOTES

When there’s Smoke … There’s Fire (Followed by Legislation)

The dramatic footage from last weekend’s fire at the 14th floor pool of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Law Vegas got us at Legislative Intent Service wondering whether it will spark any legislation.  The fire quickly burned the decorative palm trees, that were made of highly-flammable, high-density foam and plastic.  Thankfully, the black plumes looked more ominous than they really were and firefighters extinguished the fire in about 30 minutes.  However, we wonder if there will be some sort of legislative or regulatory action taken regarding outdoor flammable decorations …

Clothing and interior furnishings are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission acting under the authority of the Federal Flammable Fabrics Act of 1953.  The Flammable Fabrics Act was enacted to regulate the manufacture of highly flammable clothing.  A 1967 amendment expanded the coverage to include interior furnishings, as well as paper, plastic and foam used in apparel and interior furnishings. 

We will have to wait and see if there is any movement to extend the Flammable Fabrics Act or other law to cover things like decorative palm trees and cabanas!

A More Harmful Fire…  Back in the fall of 2003, I was working at a law firm in Chicago when a fire at the Cook County Administration Building claimed the lives of six people who got locked in a stairwell.  The employees entered a stairwell to exit the building, but got trapped when smoke blocked their path.  They tried to get back out of the stairwell but the doors were locked from the stairwell side.

In the wake of these deaths, the City of Chicago passed a stairway re-entrance ordinance requiring that doors either must remain unlocked from the stairwell or be equipped with a fail-safe electronic lock release system for unlocking the doors in an emergency.

Chicago subsequently approved additional ordinances regarding retrofitting some high rises with sprinklers, however older buildings were exempt from the sprinkler requirement if they filed “Life Safety Data Sheet” reports.

At the state level, on August 9, 2004, the State of Illinois passed the Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act to require sprinklers in college dorms and Greek houses.  When I attended a college reunion in 2012, I was surprised to see the newly constructed water tanks on campus needed to comply with the law… 

Meanwhile in Washington D.C.:  The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act (FSIA), which would amend the Internal Revenue Code regarding sprinkler retrofits, has been introduced in every Congress since 2003.  Each bill has failed to pass out of committee.

In case you missed it:  LIS looked at some California Bills that have died or stalled this session: AB 213, AB 335 and SB 128. 

A 2-Day California Bar Exam!  Starting with the July, 2017 bar exam, California test takers will face a 2-day test instead of a 3-day test.  Bar officials voted to make the change on Monday.

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