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Kerry Rose Act to be Introduced to U.S. Congress

Rep. Steve Israel joined the Fitzsimons family Tuesday, who lost their daughter to a house fire at Marist College in 2012, to call for better safety regulations on federal level.

Front row: Patrick Dolan, President of Steamfitters Local 638 (which lobbied for Albany bill), Assemblyman Michael DenDekker who sponsored the state bill, Rep. Steve Israel and Bobby Fitzsimons.
Front row: Patrick Dolan, President of Steamfitters Local 638 (which lobbied for Albany bill), Assemblyman Michael DenDekker who sponsored the state bill, Rep. Steve Israel and Bobby Fitzsimons.

Standing beside the Fitzsimons family, whose daughter died in a fire at Marist College in 2012, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) announced Tuesday at the Commack Fire Department that he’ll be introducing the Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act to Congress. 

The Act requires improved notifications of fire-safety systems for students and their families as they pick campus-affiliated housing at colleges and universities across the country.

Kerry Rose Fitzsimons died on Janurary 21, 2012, along with her two friends, just months before graduation. The off-campus house, which was owned by the college, that she was living in was not equipped with a fire sprinkler system, a safety standard that her family is now working to mandate at universities across the country. Kerry Rose was 21.

“It is simply common-sense for colleges to be required to notify students of the type of fire-safety systems that campus housing is equipped with. We have lost too many to fires that could have been prevented, and that’s why I’m introducing legislation to improve these critical notifications. I commend the Fitzsimons family for turning to action in the face of tragedy and bringing attention to an issue that will save lives,” Israel said. 

The Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act would require colleges and universities to include a description of the fire safety system wherever housing amenities are presented (including electronic materials), notify students during the housing facility selection process of the fire safety system in each facility and notify students on the day of move-in of the housing facility’s fire safety system.

Additionally, the bill would require the Department of Education to aggregate data on the number and percentage of campus beds without fire sprinklers as reported by each institution’s submission of an Annual Fire Safety Report.

"My wife and I are thrilled that this issue is going to get national recognition, and it is a long time coming. College kids across America live in dangerous conditions, and it’s about time that something happen to change this. The more knowledge people have available, the more equipped they are to make a better decision,” Bobby Fitzsimons, Kerry Rose’s father said.

In July 2013, Gov. Cuomo signed into New York State law the Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act, which would require colleges in New York to provide written information on fire safety and sprinkler systems to students residing in campus housing. The bill was sponsored by State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker.  

The National Fire Protection Association concluded in a study that the death rate per fire could be reduced by at least 80 percent, and property damages reduced by up to 68 percent if fire sprinklers are present. This significant reduction is due to the fact that sprinklers are able to contain a fire at the location of origin almost 90 percent of the time, the study’s researchers said.

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