In the wake of the Elliott Chambers Fire, state and local officials called for laws that would require sprinklers and other advanced safety systems in the hundreds of similar rooming houses throughout the Commonwealth. Supporters of the legislation included the late State Representative Frances Alexander (D-Beverly, pictured above left) and Beverly Mayor F. John "Jack" Monahan (pictured above right).
Two years after the Elliott Chambers Fire, on July 16 1986, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted a new Sprinkler Law. Chapter 265 of the Acts of 1986 amended the state's fire prevention laws to require the installation of automatic sprinklers in boarding houses where 6 or more persons live.
The City of Beverly adopted the sprinkler law on March 1, 2004,
nearly twenty years after the fire. According to the Massachusetts
Department of Fire Services, 111 of the state's 351 communities have
adopted the state's rooming house sprinkler law. (Many small towns have not adopted the law because they do not have any rooming houses).
addition to the sprinkler law, modern fire code requires rooming houses with 13 units or more to have "automatic notification" fire alarms that are tied in directly either to the fire station or to a private company that notifies fire and police, 527 CMR 24.07 (3c).
Chapter 265. AN ACT REQUIRING AUTOMATIC SPRINKLERS IN BOARDING HOUSES.
Be it enacted, etc.. as follows:
Chapter 148 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 26G the following section:-
Section 26H. In any city or town which accepts the provisions of this section, every lodging house or boarding house shall be protected throughout with an adequate system of automatic sprinklers in accordance with the provisions of the state building code. No such sprinkler system shall be required unless sufficient water and water pressure exists. In such buildings or in certain areas of such buildings, where the discharge of water would be an actual danger in the event of a fire, the head of the fire department shall permit the installation of such other fire suppressant systems as are prescribed by the state building code in lieu of automatic sprinklers. The head of the fire department shall enforce the provisions of this section.
For the purposes of this section "lodging house" or "boarding house" shall mean a house where lodgings are let to six or more persons not within the second degree of kindred to the person conducting it, but shall not include fraternity houses or dormitories, rest homes or group residences licensed or regulated by agencies of the commonwealth.
Approved July 16, 1986.