I came across a news story on the National Association of Home Builders’ 2009 International Residential Code meeting that is worth sharing. It seems a bit esoteric, but here is why you should care: This is the code that determines what is required to by in new homes. In this case, it’s going start requiring that you pay for the installation (and subsequent maintenance) of a fire SPRINKLER system.
Now, it irritates me that if I buy a new house, I’ll be footing the bill for something like that, but that’s not what really gets my goat. What just gets under my skin is this:
The sudden — and controversial — arrival on Saturday of 900 fire officials eligible to vote at the International Code Council‘s final action hearings in Minneapolis swelled the number of sprinkler proponents and the measure was approved by a vote of 1,283 to 470 on Sunday morning.
About 1,200 voting devices were turned in immediately after the residential fire sprinkler mandate was approved, suggesting that most of the proponents left immediately after the vote was taken.
The residential fire sprinkler mandates will provide a sizable financial boon for the fire sprinkler manufacturing industry, which, like NAHB, helped provide funding for building officials to attend the hearings.
In 2005, when there were about 1.65 million new homes constructed at an average 2,340 square feet, sprinkler manufacturers would have reaped about $5.8 billion in revenue, based on average sprinkler costs of $1.50 per square foot, had the sprinkler requirement been in effect.
NAHB had identified several concerns over residential fire sprinkler systems — among them, questioning whether most home owners are prepared to perform the maintenance required to ensure that the sprinklers remain operational.
Builders also cited the potential for pipes installed in attics to freeze in colder climates and they said that the sprinklers can be discharged accidentally, with damaging results. In areas served by wells or where water is scarce, the availability of an adequate water supply is another possible problem.
NAHB pointed to several existing code requirements that have contributed to a significant decline in fire-related deaths and injuries over the past 30 years.
Special interest anyone?