The following article is reprinted with permission from the NFPA website:
New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council is considering the adoption of the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC), including the provision to sprinkler new, one- and two-family homes. In advance of their vote, the New York State Builders Association sent out an email to its membership, which included the following:
"Homebuilders will always support stringent fire safety code changes when they make sense, such as hard-wired, battery operated, smoke alarms. However, as a society, we cannot afford to deny needed housing for the sake of new requirements without proven benefits. While they should remain an option for homeowners who choose them, fire sprinklers in single-family homes are expensive to install, can be difficult to maintain, and do not represent a cost-effective safety improvement over smoke alarm systems."
Setting the record straight about sprinklers, the Build Safe New York Alliance, a group consisting of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York, and others are urging the Code Council to adopt the 2015 IRC in its entirety, including the sprinkler requirement. The alliance has set up an online call to action for emergency responders and other fire safety advocates to show their support for the sprinkler requirement.
Here are some points to share with the Code Council or other sprinkler opponents in New York or your state:
The "proven benefits" of sprinklers that the New York State Builders Association questions can be verified by NFPA; sprinklers, for instance, cut the risk of dying in home fires by 80 percent.
As for the claim that sprinklers are "difficult to maintain," the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition's (HFSC) "Living With Sprinklers" page notes that home fire sprinkler maintenance couldn't be easier.
Yes, the builder's association is correct in stating that smoke alarm code requirements make sense, but these devices don't have the power to extinguish a fire. Sprinklers are the only technology that rapidly responds to fire, giving occupants ample time to escape a blaze.
While sprinkler costs vary from state to state, the general consensus is that sprinkler installation is a mere one percent of the cost of a new home. In communities and states that have taken action to require sprinklers, installation costs have decreased over time, per NFPA's 2013 sprinkler cost study.
Sprinkler opponents also claim that home fire sprinklers aren't a desirable option for homeowners, yet a recent study conducted on behalf of HFSC (don't forget to download the related infographic) notes that most homeowners said they're more likely to buy a home with sprinklers than without them.
Let NFPA help you bust the myths associated with home fire sprinklers via its Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources. And show your support for sprinklers in New York by telling the Code Council that sprinklers make sense.