Sprinklers compulsory in new American homes from 2011
American homes are one step closer to being more fire-safe, following an October 28 vote at the International Code Council (ICC) hearings in Baltimore, Md.
The vote reaffirmed national building codes making it mandatory for all new one- and two- family dwellings to have residential fire sprinklers starting in 2011.
American homes are one step closer to being more fire-safe, following an October 28 vote at the International Code Council (ICC) hearings in Baltimore, Md., that reaffirmed national building codes making it mandatory for all new one- and two- family dwellings to have residential fire sprinklers starting in 2011.
Currently, 44 states are in various stages of legislation to adopt the ICC's International Residential Code (IRC), the national building code which includes the fire sprinkler requirement, which would take effect January 1, 2011. This requirement was in danger of being removed from the 2012 code and was subject to this vote, which confirmed its need and the lifting of restrictions that had the potential to block its adoption by the ICC.
With this win, residential fire sprinkler requirements have progressed to becoming a standard fire safety addition to homes. This initiative has the potential to vastly reduce the 3,000 yearly fire deaths in the U.S., as well as significantly reduce serious injury and property damage.
Working together, fire sprinkler supporters united to show that mandatory fire sprinklers are a cost-effective solution to the nation's fire problem. In fact, statistics show that nationally, residential fire sprinklers cost approximately $1.61 per-square-foot of finished space, or one percent of the value of the home to install. This cost is expected to account for approximately $3,500 to $5,000 of the price of a new home.
"Over a 30-year mortgage, that's less than the price of a cup of coffee per week! That's a small price to pay to save the lives of your loved ones in the event of a fire. This is a big win for the fire service and American residents. In order to reduce this country's fire problem, it must be attacked where fires happen the most, which is in the home," said John Viniello, president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association.
The IRC is the model code that is adopted in 46 states as the basic building code for new homes. Following code hearings, the IRC must be adopted at the state level. Residential fire sprinkler ordinances already exist in municipalities throughout 34 states.
The inclusion of residential fire sprinklers for one- and-two-family dwellings is a response to the growing fire problem in the U.S. About 85 percent of all fires occur in the home, fueled by new lightweight construction and more flammable home contents. In fact, the new sprinkler regulations have been endorsed by fire service professionals across the country, including the U.S. Fire Administration, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and the International Association of Firefighters. Groups such as these agree smoke detectors are no longer enough in residential fire protection, as the time to escape a house fire has dwindled from 17 minutes 20 years ago to three minutes today, and this poses a severe risk to those who cannot self-evacuate or have mobility concerns.
NFSA joined forces with the International Residential Code Fire Sprinkler Coalition - a large alliance of fire service professional organizations, including fire chiefs and fire marshals, fire code associations, and citizen advocacy groups - through educating and canvassing ICC members to vote for the code change.
"This is not a one-person or one-organization victory," added Viniello. "We are grateful to the ICC for implementing a process that allows for the call for change to be heard and provides a forum for change to take place. In addition, we thank the International Residential Code Fire Sprinkler Coalition for joining so many organizations together to bring us to victory."
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