A recent decision by the New York Fire Prevention and Building Code Council to not include a sprinkler requirement for new homes hasn't stopped fire officials from speaking out about this life-safety feature.
Despite the council's vote, the fire service and other safety advocates are planning on voicing the importance of such a requirement during New York's Department of State public-review process that precedes the new state building code becoming law. The department will finish the review process by early 2016, according to a story in the Watertown Daily News.
Regarding the code council's vote, "I'm disappointed they chose to put profitability of builders over safety," said Jerry DeLuca, executive and CEO of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs and member of the New York Sprinkler Initiative told the paper. "We've talked to people in the Baltimore area where sprinklers are mandated, and they said the [installation costs] were higher when they were first required three years ago. But as more homes were built, the prices came down to about $1 per square foot." NFPA places the national average at $1.35 per sprinklered square foot.
Arguing that sprinklers should be a consumer option is Lewis A. Dubuque, executive vice president of the New York Builders Association. "Hard-wired smoke detectors are a cost-efficient way to keep people safe, and that's your safety belt," he told the paper. NFPA underscores the importance of smoke alarms in saving lives, but notes only sprinklers have the power to quickly suppress a fire.
Dubuque also pointed to a study he says confirms fire sprinklers should be a matter of choice. However, a 2014 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition confirms that the majority of respondents are more likely to buy a home with fire sprinklers than without.
DeLuca also countered a study produced by the builders association that argues fatal fires are occurring mostly in older homes. "There are more old homes out there than new homes, so statistics are going to be skewed," he said. Proving the catastrophic nature of fires in today's homes, two-year old Nora Lamirande from New York was killed this year from a fire in a home built in 2013.
Sprinkler opposition is out there, and it's fierce. Educate yourself on the many benefits of fire sprinklers so you can effectively respond to their claims.