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« Successful fire sprinkler activation saves Tucson home | Main | National reporting system documents near-misses in lightweight structures »

02/14/2013

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There's a lot of talk about new construction. And I'm not sure that "lightweight construction" is in fact here to stay - particularly in regions like ours (Arizona) where you need something other than stick-built foam-core and glue construction to combat our harsh climate.

There is little if any discussion - it seems - about existing buildings. The wheels have come off our economy and poorly designed and shoddily-built suburban sprawl has halted, thankfully and hopefully for a good while.

My question is how can sprinkler ordinances be written and implemented to encourage owners of existing "older homes" (often far better built than the average McMansion) to remain in them and continue to be part of neighborhoods and established communities.

Current regulations - in Scottsdale, for example, do not encourage homeowners to engage in substantial and "green" renovations because of the specter of sprinklers having to be installed and the onerous submission requirements that a) exceed those established in NFPA 13D and b) presume that the only solutions are stand alone cPVC or copper systems.

it sounds like a great idea, but some consideration needs to be reviewed about costs. Most homes do not have an adequate supply line to the residences to really make it work. Also, would they be required to install heads in closets and such as we do in commercial applications? How about annual inspections? Would it not be wiser to require smoke detector systems throughout the home instead of sprinklers to alert the all persons in the home?

I think the statistics show that a sprinkler head in the kitchen and one in the utility room will confine or suppress a fire to these areas and reduce by 80% fire loss to homes as well as lose of life. Why then is this not the best option for both the fire service and the builders. It makes me think that there is a money issue involved. Could the sprinkler lobby be pushing this? It would mean quite a bit of money for them.

Mr. Benfield:
The NFPA 13D technical committee ‘adopted the concept of “levels of protection” in order to achieve a reasonable degree of safety while controlling the cost of the system’ (Dubay, 2007)

The criteria for this standard are based on full-scale fire tests of rooms containing typical furnishings found in residential living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.

Sprinkler systems designed and installed according to this standard save lives. The life safety system design of the standard omits sprinklers from "non living areas."

Any system designed and installed below this standard is not expected to function as a life safety system.

NFPA is committed to this campaign because we believe that home fire sprinklers will save thousands of lives.

I agree with most of what Lynn T. Benfield stated, "I think the statistics show that a sprinkler head in the kitchen and one in the utility room will confine or suppress a fire to these areas and reduce by 80% fire loss to homes as well as lose of life." However, I would suggest utilizing statistics to locate additional heads in other areas to increase this above 80%. I believe Lynn's suggestion should be applied to all existing homes that are rented by an owner.
To take an all or nothing stance in this battle as stated by Maria is to loose the war.

Mr. Reed:
Anything less than an NFPA 13D system will not properly protect the lives of occupants. Fires do not only start in kitchens and utility rooms; but also in bedrooms, living rooms, and other living areas in the home. NFPA 13D systems are designed to protect living areas.

It is unfortunate the fire sprinkler opponents have turned this into a "battle" as you mention. We will continue to fight to make sure that future housing stock is fully protected against the ravages of fire. When sprinklers are present, they save lives.

Great post Jeff. Can't be more excited to see where you guys end up another 12 months from now.

AS I SAID ABOVE THE CONSTRUCTION LOBBY IS SO STRONG, WE MUST START WITH BABY STEPS. I DO WANT FULL PROTECTION IN NEW CONSTRUCTION TOO, BUT AS I SAID ABOVE WE COULD GET PARTIAL PROTECTION ON RENTAL PROPERTY FIRST. YOU MUST AGREE WITH THAT. BELOW I HAVE PASTED THE PREVIOUS COMMENT, I ONLY HOPE YOU GUYS READ IT. IF YOU RESPOND SEND ME AN EMAIL TO hreed13@cox.net

I believe Lynn's suggestion should be applied to all existing homes that are rented by an owner.
To take an all or nothing stance in this battle as stated by Maria is to loose the war

Mr. Reed:
As stated on numerous occassions anything less than a system designed to NFPA 13D standards is substandard. We advocate for sprinkler systems in all new home construction.

Retrofitting of existing structures is not required in the code. However, any retrofit must also meet the standard.

The logic for requiring partial sprinklers in the kitchen is not substantiated by statistical research. Although the majority of fire injuries occur in the kitchen, the majority of fire deaths occur in other living areas.

Anyone is welcome to submit changes to the NFPA 13D committee. In the event, and until such time that the requirements change, the minimum standard for new home construction remains the same.

Maria Figueroa

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