(AP Photo Damian Dovarganes, File) (AP Photo Damian Dovarganes, File)

Nearly 300 New York City Housing Authority units do not have sprinkler systems, which significantly reduce the number of deaths caused in a fire.

Rep. Max Rose wants to bring fire prevention efforts in public housing units into the modern era, by setting up a program to retrofit older high-rise buildings with sprinkler systems.

Rose, a freshman Democrat from New York, introduced legislation to install sprinklers in public housing buildings across the country. The bill would create a grant program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to install the sprinklers and collect data on the status of updates throughout the country. 

Federal law now requires sprinkler systems in all new government-owned high rise buildings, but apartment buildings built before 1992 are excluded. According to Rose’s office, this loophole means that hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country are at risk, including 296 out of 316 New York City Housing Authority developments. 

“Public housing agencies across the country face massive challenges when it comes to maintaining housing stock, much less upgrading them to modern standards,” Rose said in a statement. “Unfortunately that’s resulted in far too many of New York City’s public housing buildings not having sprinkler systems.” 

Rose introduced the legislation alongside Republican Rep. Peter King, also from New York.

“Too often common sense measures that save lives are overlooked or not implemented. Providing life-saving sprinklers which would prevent or minimize a tragedy is one of them,” King said in a statement

According to Rose’s office, automatic fire sprinkler systems are essential for fire safety and properly installed sprinklers can respond to fire and smoke before they spread further into high-rise buildings. Buildings with sprinkler systems have a death rate that’s 81% lower than homes without the systems. 

“Residents of public housing developments deserve to live in a safe home and without fear of devastating fires,” said Fire Chief and International Association of Fire Chiefs President and Chairman Gary Ludwig in a statement. “Residents of public housing developments deserve to live in a safe home and without the fear of devastating fires. Retrofitting a building with fire sprinklers is the most effective way to dramatically reduce the chance of loss of life or property due to fire.”