Contractors across the U.S. face a new rule and new expense—mandatory home sprinkler systems.
The Florida Wires reports that some states now require homes built after January 1, 2011 to have sprinkler systems. This poses a burden on the home construction industry, which is down more than 90 percent in some states, such as Connecticut. Contractors argue this safety feature should be voluntary.
International Code Council Reasoning
The International Code Council states that the new regulation applies to homes and townhouses that are fewer than three stories high. The rule is an attempt to be proactive. The Florida Wires article reports that, according to the Insurance Institute, 2,100 people died in one- and two- story homes in 2009, and 9,300 house fire-related injuries were reported. Mandatory sprinkler systems help wet combustible materials, thereby benefiting the elderly, disabled and children who may not be able to escape a fire quickly.
Home Builder Resistance
Home contractors argue that, unlike smoke alarms, studies have not proved that sprinkler systems improve the safety of a home. Moreover, a sprinkler system could raise the cost to build a home by up to $10,000. Many contractors fear that a home with a sprinkler system will look less attractive to prospective homeowners because of the unfounded fear that the sprinklers will go off by accident. Building sprinkler systems are notoriously known to cause enormous amounts of water damage within homes and offices, often by causing damage to electronic equipment, carpet and furniture.
The issue regarding the cost of home safety will continue to be a debated topic. Fortunately, there are disaster restoration services available to help business and homeowners who have experienced water damage from a sprinkler system. Services offered include the recovery of wet documents and the proper drying of wet books and photographs. However, regardless of the safety features a home may have, families still need to practice fire safety techniques to prevent fires, as well as create a stay-safe plan in the event a fire breaks out in the home.