THE BRONX - New York business owners may soon have to install automatic fire sprinklers to protect animals that they house after the City Council passed a bill Thursday.

The bill's main sponsor, Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), says the sprinklers could mean the difference between life and death. The legislation was introduced after several trapped animals were killed in fires in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens.

David Rios, of Stephanie's Pet Center, knows how devastating a fire can be. In 2008, flames ripped through a row of businesses on Southern Boulevard, destroying his pet store, which had been housed there for 10 years. His animals died in the fire.

"The flames just took off," says Rios. "It took everything out of my hands instantly, in a couple of seconds." Rios rebuilt his business and included automatic sprinklers inside his new pet center.

In addition to pet stores, the bill requires other facilities that house animals for 24 hours to have automatic sprinklers installed by December 2016. The legislation now heads to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) voted against the bill. He said that he thought it was "a great bill," but he said the legislation requires small-pet shops to also comply, which he didn't agree with.