At a recent meeting of the International Code Council a motion was approved to make fire sprinklers mandatory for homes in 2011, a scant 2 years away. The mandate will add the added expense to new home construction for 1 and 2 family homes to gain an additional layer of safety in the event of a fire.
Sounds noble, right?
But what the cost. A study shows the cost of installation of a sprinkler system will add another $1.61 per square foot of space, not to mention the cost on inspection and maintenance over the life of the system. And what happens when the roast starts smoking, will the sprinkler go off?
If the risk of water damage from a faulty system is added in, will insurance premiums spike? Or will the sprinkler system actually lower those premiums as fire damage will be reduced?
These question should be answered before another unfunded mandate is pushed by an anonymous regulatory agency on American homeowners.
Supporters of the code change say sprinklers increase the amount of time people have to get out their homes during a fire by preventing flashover, which occurs when the temperature in a room reaches a point where all combustible materials burst into flames. “This is just the most wonderful step forward because it’s going to ensure that more families have access to the one technology we know can save their lives in a devastating home fire,” says Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council, a nonprofit in Washington that promotes prevention of accidental home injuries.
But the National Association of Home Builders says there isn’t enough evidence to support making sprinklers mandatory, which will also increase the cost of the home and require maintenance by homeowners. “We disagree with this mandate, but our members will continue to advocate for cost-effective construction and life safety measures through the model code process,” NAHB President Sandra Dunn said in a statement. via WSJ.com