WHY IS THE DIVISION
OF CONDOMINIUMS BEING SO DIFFICULT?
Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published December 5, 2016
All of you who live in a condominium are now
certainly aware that by December 31st,
if your building is 75 feet or higher, you will be required to
install a fire sprinkler system in your condominium, unless the
unit owners vote to opt out. Many of you have already done so.
A few weeks ago, I wrote in my blog that you need not worry
about opting out if your building is not 75 feet or taller,
because there is absolutely no law in The State of Florida that
requires buildings under 75 feet to install a fire sprinkler
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of speaking with Karl Thompson,
Chief Engineer, Bureau of Fire Prevention, Division of State
Fire Marshal. He confirmed in no uncertain terms that if youíre
under 75 feet ----- THERE IS NOTHING TO OPT OUT OF. YOU ARE NOT
REQUIRED TO INSTALL FIRE SPRINKLERS. HOW DO YOU VOTE TO OPT OUT
OF SOMETHING THAT YOUíRE NOT REQUIRED TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE!
He also confirmed that NO FIRE INSPECTOR IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
CAN CITE A CONDOMINIUM THAT IS LESS THAN 75 FEET FOR FAILURE TO
You would think that when the stateís Fire Marshall gives an
interpretation of Floridaís fire prevention laws, that would be
the end of it right? Wrong. Apparently, the Division of
Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes knows the fire laws
better than the experts paid to enforce them. The Division still
refuses to take the position that condominiums under 75 feet
tall do not have to opt out. They believe the condominium
statute does not specifically state that buildings under 75 are
I respond by saying: WHO CARES WHAT YOU THINK THE FLORIDA
CONDOMINIUM STATUTE REQUIRES WHEN IT COMES TO FIRE SAFETY? You
know for sure and for certain that there is no law in Florida
that requires condominiums less than 75 feet to install fire
sprinklers. Why canít you simply take that position? What
business do you have attempting to enforce the fire code? Stick
to condominiums and let the fire experts deal with fire.
So, because the Division has stuck its neck
into business it should not be involved in, smaller condominiums
are freaking out, thinking they still have to opt out, even when
our state fire officials say they do not. Letís take this to its
potential conclusion and say that a two story 30 foot condo does
not opt out by December 31st. Does anyone really believe that on
January 1st, the Division can require a condominium to install a
fire sprinkler system? I would like to see them try. The bottom
line is that they canít because the Division does not enforce
the fire code.
It gets worse. The State Senator who drafted the legislation at
issue has informed the Division that the intent of the law was
never to require buildings less than 75 feet to opt out. Not
even that is good enough for the Division. So in the mean time,
smaller condominiums that can least afford it are running scared
and believe they have to pay an attorney to draft the necessary
opt out documents. They donít.
This is part of the reason why there are many, who if given the
chance would vote to ďopt outĒ of regulation by the Division of
Condominiums and the DBPR. Hey Tallahassee, how about doing
the right thing here and retracting your position?
HOA & Condo Blog
Eric Glazer graduated from
the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after
receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community
association law for more than 2
decades and is the owner of Glazer
and Associates, P.A. a seven attorney law firm with offices in
Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and satellite offices in Naples,
Fort Myers and Tampa.
Since 2009, Eric has been the host
of Condo Craze and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs
at noon each Sunday on 850 WFTL.
He is the first attorney in the
State of Florida that designed a course that certifies
condominium residents as eligible to serve on a condominium
Board of Directors and has now certified more than 10,000
Floridians all across the state. He is certified as a Circuit
Court Mediator by The Florida Supreme Court and has mediated
dozens of disputes between associations and unit owners. Eric
also devotes significant time to advancing legislation in the
best interest of Florida community association members.