Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act Requires Fire Safety Disclosures By New York Colleges and Universities

October 23, 2013

By: Philip J. Zaccheo

On July 25, 2013, Governor fire-sprinklerAndrew Cuomo signed into law the Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act, which requires the immediate disclosure of residential fire safety system information by colleges and universities in New York State. The Act is named for Kerry Rose Fitzsimons, a college student who died, along with two others, in a 2012 fire in her off-campus residence.

The Act adds a new Section 6438 to the New York Education Law, requiring institutions to disclose in writing to students residing in an institutionally-owned or operated housing facility a description of the facility’s fire safety system, including whether the facility is (or is not) equipped with a sprinkler system. The written notification must also indicate how students may access the institution’s Campus Fire Safety Report published pursuant to the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act.

The Act is effective immediately. Accordingly, colleges and universities in New York should take steps to inform all current and future residential students of the information described above, taking care to ensure that the disclosed information provides an accurate description of their fire safety capabilities. The Act does not specify the precise timing or means by which notice must be provided, other than to require that the notice be in writing. We anticipate that in the future, most institutions will choose to provide this information as part of the documentation by which students elect to reside in their residential facilities; however, an ad hoc notification process may be necessary for those students who have already completed the housing registration procedure for the 2013-2014 academic year.