An article in the Cumberland Times-News reports that the City of Frostburg’s mayor and city council voted unanimously in favor of the home fire sprinkler mandate and designed an attractive incentive package for homebuilders, effective July 1, 2012. With this action, city leaders reversed an earlier vote to opt-out of the state’s requirement to install fire sprinkler systems in all new one- and two-family homes.
As reported by Cumberland Times-News, fire officials had pleaded with local leaders to make the installation of sprinkler systems law, quoting Frostburg Fire Volunteer Department President Gary Tummino; “As firefighters, our only advantage is time, and anything that can help us to prevent the loss of life and property is important...We are proud of the mayor and council for being proactive in this and protecting the citizens of our town.”
According to the article, the Council also unanimously approved the Residential Sprinkler System Incentive Program 2012 to try to attract “as many new construction projects for one- and two-unit residential projects as is possible.”
The incentives include:
- $1,000 reimbursement of the standard water connection fee, which typically costs from $1,500 to $1,800.
- Real estate taxes would also be significantly reduced for three years, with the city receiving taxes for the value of the land and only 20 percent of new construction.
In April, the Frostburg Council voted 3-2 to opt out of the state’s requirement but quickly reconsidered because of strong opposition from fire department officials. There is another reason for reconsidering; as reported here earlier this month, the State of Maryland enacted in to law HB366, and its companion, SB602 prohibiting local jurisdictions, with specified exceptions, from adopting local amendments to the Maryland Building Performance Standards if the local amendments weaken automatic fire sprinkler systems provisions contained in the Standards. Local jurisdictions will no longer be able to “opt out” of the requirement.
Incentives are considered an important tool to further bring down the price of home fire sprinkler systems. The Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment study concluded that when incentives were applied the cost of the systems reviewed for the study averaged $1.49 per sq. ft. Another study, Incentives for the Use of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems in U.S. Communities, by the Fire Protection Research Foundation revealed that incentives typically offered by jurisdictions are likely to offset 1/3 of the system’s cost. As jurisdictions continue to move towards providing incentives the cost of home fire sprinklers systems are likely to continue to decrease.