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Effort to Repeal Fire Sprinkler Mandate in Pennsylvania Advances

April 24th, 2011 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com


A state Senate committee approved legislation Wednesday morning that would reverse a mandate requiring new single-family and duplex homes to be equipped with residential sprinkler systems.The bill will now move to the full Senate.

In 2010, Pennsylvania added the provision to the Pennsylvania Construction Code, which went into effect Jan. 1. The measure was adopted after the International Code Council recommended in 2009 that states and municipalities require sprinkler systems in homes. The code has been widely supported by fire officials.

Now several Chester County lawmakers support efforts to repeal the mandate.

Home builders have argued the rule is unfair to consumers, and lawmakers have argued the measure has worsened an already struggling housing market.

At the same time, fire officials maintain the mandate is in the best interest of public safety.

Earlier this year, state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming County, introduced House Bill 377, which would repeal the mandate. Two Chester County lawmakers co-sponsored the bill: state Reps. Steven Barrar, R-160th of Upper Chichester, and John Lawrence, R-13th of Franklin.

The House approved the bill March 7 with a vote of 154-39.

The Senate’s labor and industry committee approved the legislation Wednesday. Committee Chairman Sen. John Gordner, a Republican from northeastern Pennsylvania, said Tuesday he supports the bill.

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Missouri Senate Bill Would Delay Fire Sprinkler Mandate

April 22nd, 2011 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

By Associated Press

The Missouri Senate has voted to delay a sprinkler system mandate for residential care centers that was adopted after a deadly fire in November 2006.

Eleven people were killed in the fire at the Anderson Guest House for the mentally ill and disabled in southwest Missouri. The facility was not equipped with sprinklers.

The next year, the Legislature passed a bill requiring nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities with at least 20 beds to install sprinklers by the end of 2012.

The Senate gave initial approval Monday to legislation moving the deadline by two years to Dec. 31, 2014. There was no debate on the change. The legislation needs another Senate vote to move to the House.


Sprinkler bill is SB118.


Read more at the Washington Examiner:

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Fire Sprinklers Not Required in Georgia Homes

April 18th, 2011 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

By Meredith Armstrong

The International Code Council is an organization of building inspectors and fire officials.

They are charged with setting building standards, recommending in 2009 that all states and municipalities adopt codes requiring sprinkler systems in homes and town houses less than three stories high.

Just last year, Georgia law changed making it illegal to require fire sprinklers for residential structures.

Bill Hart at the Greater Columbus Homebuilders Association said Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue signed House Bill 1196 into law less than a year ago, deleting the requirement for sprinklers in single family homes.

A spokesperson from the Columbus Fire Department said he’s not aware of a single case in Columbus where a person has died where there’s a properly maintained sprinkler system.

Columbus Fire Marshal Chief Ricky Shores said, “They’re just simply magnificent in keeping a fire in check until we can get there to properly extinguish it.”

Shores said fire doubles in size every 45 to 60 seconds, and when seconds count, there’s no substitute for delivering water to a fire.

In 2009, 2,100 people other than firefighters died in one- and two-family homes, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In that same year, 9,300 injuries were reported.

A single family home caught fire over the weekend. Flames did $100,000 worth of damage, according to the Columbus Fire Department.

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Home Fire Sprinklers Will Save Lives and Won’t Kill the Housing Recovery

April 16th, 2011 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

By John Waters

On April 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation adopted strict regulations aimed at ending long delays on airport tarmacs in which passengers were held as hostages. Airlines could now be fined up to $27,500 per passenger for a flight that remains on the tarmac for more than three hours.

Before the new law was enacted, the Air Transport Association, on behalf of the nation’s largest airlines, lobbied to block government regulation of tarmac delays. Carriers made commitments to fix problems using voluntary measures, and they argued that government regulations forcing planes back to the gate after three hours would lead to more canceled flights and huge consequences for air travelers. Compelling as they might have seemed, DOT didn’t buy these arguments, and government acted to protect the public interest.

According to a Dec. 8, 2010, USA Today article, six months later, the airline industry achieved a miraculous milestone. The nation’s 18 largest airlines reported not a single tarmac delay of more than three hours for the month of October versus 11 such delays in October 2009. Moreover, since the new rule had gone into effect, only 12 extended tarmac delays were reported, versus 546 during the same period in 2009.

The “gloom and doom” predicted by the airlines never happened. In fact, while the rate of flight cancellations remained essentially unchanged, airlines improved overall on-time performance, mishandled fewer bags and received fewer passenger complaints. Given the incentive of avoiding stiff DOT fines, airlines and airports found ways to make operational adjustments that essentially ended torturous tarmac delays.

What does all of this have to do with residential fire sprinklers? Plenty. For the last 30 years, since residential fire sprinklers first became available, the home building industry has fought vigorously to block regulations that would require fire sprinklers as a standard feature in new homes. But the organizations who write our nation’s building codes eventually stopped buying industry arguments that are inconsistent with public welfare.

Effective Jan. 1, all U.S. model codes require new homes to be equipped with fire sprinklers. Unlike DOT’s regulations, however, these model code requirements are not law until states and local jurisdictions adopt them, and HBAs in many states (including Pennsylvania), having lost the model code debate, have pulled out all stops to block adoption of these codes.

Just as airlines warned of “gloom and doom” from tarmac delay rules, the Pennsylvania Home Builders Associations warn of dire consequences if jurisdictions require fire sprinklers in new homes. Their primary argument against fire sprinklers is that they will increase the cost of new homes, which in turn will delay or kill recovery of the housing market. Although that’s a nice sound bite, it fails the “perspective” test in several ways:

1. There’s no evidence that putting fire sprinklers in new homes will impact sales prices. Builders have the option of adjusting other home construction features to offset the cost of sprinklers to maintain current pricing in a competitive market. Fluctuating prices of land, lumber, concrete, etc. are routinely dealt with in that way.

2. Even if the cost of a fire sprinkler system were directly added to the sales price, the impact on monthly payments is insignificant after credits that reduce home insurance costs; for instance, State Farm Insurance, offers a 10 percent discount in homeowner’s insurance for properties protected with automatic sprinklers.

3. If the cost of fire sprinklers were enough to kill the housing recovery, so too would a 0.1 percent increase in the interest rate on a 30-year mortgage, which has about the same impact on a monthly mortgage payment. Although rates routinely rise and fall by much more than this amount, the housing market marches on.

4. As does Pennsylvania, the states of California and Maryland have adopted the International Residential Code, including fire sprinkler provisions. These states didn’t buy the argument that sprinklers will kill the housing recovery.

It is unfortunate that many builders fail to see the contribution that residential fire sprinklers could make in driving new home sales. Builders’ main competition in selling new homes is the resale market, and features such as energy efficiency and fire sprinklers differentiate new homes from existing homes, making existing homes obsolete. Safety, security and energy efficiency are powerful incentives that can drive a buyer to purchase a new home instead of a resale.

The California Building Industry Association understood the liability risk and made a prudent decision when it supported statewide adoption of the IRC, including the fire sprinkler requirement. The Pennsylvania HBAs, who like the airline industry seemingly suffer from a lack of confidence in their members’ ability to adapt and innovate, just don’t get it. Ultimately, their members might pay the price.

John Waters is co-chairman of the Pennsylvania Residential Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

Category: Blog, Fire Codes, News, Public Support | 1 Comment »

New Guide Helps Jurisdictions Implement Residential Fire Sprinklers

April 15th, 2011 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

Fire officials across the country are adopting residential fire sprinkler requirements, but what happens after a jurisdiction adopts a model code or ordinance? Addressing this challenge is the mission of a grant-funded guide and workshops developed by the National Association of State Fire Marshals Fire Research and Education Foundation (NASFM Foundation) and the Residential Fire Safety Institute (RFSI).

The comprehensive guide, entitled “Bridging the Gap: A Guide to Implementing a Residential Sprinkler Requirement,” has been developed to help jurisdictions answer the question, “We have established a residential fire sprinkler requirement – now what?” The guide addresses the planning, management and administration of residential fire sprinkler requirements after they have been established in a community. The guide provides information regarding policy issues, stakeholder involvement and critical decision points. Also provided is detailed information on incentives that can be offered to builders, developers and home owners; extensive links to best practices from jurisdictions around the country that have successfully carried out residential sprinkler requirements; and sample checklists and other model documents that will be helpful in the implementation process.

“Excellent guidance is available from other sources on how to actually get a residential fire sprinkler requirement passed,” said Lane Wintermute, RFSI Field Director. “The ‘Bridging the Gap’ guide is designed to complement and provide follow up to those efforts by taking jurisdictions the next few steps – showing them how to effectively manage the plans review, inspection, installation and approval process that is critical to assuring a properly operating systems when a fire occurs.”

Chief Alan Shuman, NASFM Foundation President and Georgia State Fire Marshal, adds, “There is no reason for a community to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when it comes to implementing a residential fire sprinkler ordinance. The ‘Bridging the Gap’ guide contains models and best practices from jurisdictions that have worked through these issues and are willing to share what they have learned with others.”

The development of the guidebook and a series of 10 workshops to introduce it to the fire service in the first half of 2011 were funded with a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Fire Prevention & Safety Grants Program.

About the Residential Fire Safety Institute

RFSI, formerly known as Operation Life Safety, was created in 1982 as a public interest group to promote fire-safe homes through built-in fire protection and fire safety education. RFSI’s activities include a newsletter, website, educational resources and technical assistance to fire departments, local and state governments on programs that involve residential fire sprinklers, carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, and other early warning equipment.

About the National Association of State Fire Marshals Fire Research and Education Foundation

The National Association of State Fire Marshals Fire Research and Education Foundation (NASFM Foundation), a 501(c)(3) organization, works with companies, government agencies, associations, academic institutions and others that strive to achieve higher levels of fire safety for consumers and for the emergency response community. The NASFM Foundation is managed by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), whose members are the senior fire officials and their chief deputies in the 50 US States and the District of Columbia. NASFM’s primary mission is to protect life, property and the environment from fire and related hazards.

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Antifreeze in New Installations of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems Banned by NFPA Standards Council

August 30th, 2010 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards Council has banned the use of antifreeze solution in residential fire sprinkler systems for new construction until further action by NFPA consensus standards committees, and NFPA has issued a follow-up to its July 2010 safety alert to provide updated guidance on the use of antifreeze in residential fire sprinkler systems. The council action and updated alert follow new research that was conducted after a fire incident raised concerns about antifreeze solutions in residential fire sprinkler systems. The incident involved a grease fire in a kitchen where a sprinkler with a high concentration of antifreeze deployed. The fire resulted in a single fatality and serious injury to another person.

“Fire sprinklers are one of the most effective ways to save lives and property from fire,” said James M. Shannon, president of NFPA. “We have acted quickly to conduct additional research in order to provide the public and our technical committees with as much information as possible regarding the use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems.”

According to NFPA, the home is the place where most fire fatalities occur, and when sprinklers are present, the risk of dying in a home fire decreases by 83%.

Shannon said the key findings from the new report were:

* Antifreeze solutions with concentrations of propylene glycol exceeding 40% and concentrations of glycerin exceeding 50% have the potential to ignite when discharged through automatic sprinklers.

* Both the 40% propylene glycol and 50% glycerin solutions demonstrated similar performance to that of water alone for fire control throughout the series of tests.

* Based on the results of this research, antifreeze solutions of propylene glycol exceeding 40% and glycerin exceeding 50% are not appropriate for use in residential fire sprinkler systems.

* Consideration should be given to reducing the acceptable concentrations of these antifreeze solutions by an appropriate safety factor.

New Systems

NFPA standards prohibit the use of antifreeze in residential fire sprinkler systems in new construction following the August 16, 2010 issuance of tentative interim amendments (TIA) to NFPA 13, 13D and 13R. If you are putting in a new residential fire sprinkler system (including all NFPA 13D applications and the dwelling unit portions of NFPA 13 and NFPA 13R systems), refer to the latest editions of NFPA 13, 13D and 13R, as amended by TIA numbers 1000, 995, and 994.

Existing Systems

* Fire sprinklers are extremely effective fire protection devices, significantly reducing deaths, injuries and property loss from fire. These systems should not be disconnected.

* Residential fire sprinkler systems, whenever possible, should not contain an antifreeze solution.

* If you have, or are responsible for, an existing residential occupancy with a fire sprinkler system, contact a sprinkler contractor to check and see if there is antifreeze solution in the system.

* If there is antifreeze solution in the system, determine if other means, such as insulation, can be used to provide adequate freeze protection.

* If there is no viable alternative to antifreeze solutions, NFPA recommends the following:
- Use only propylene glycol or glycerin antifreeze solution.
- The antifreeze solution should be the lowest possible concentration required for the needed freeze potential but under no circumstance should the antifreeze solution exceed a maximum concentration of 40% of propylene glycol or a maximum concentration of 50% of glycerin. Consideration should be given to reducing these concentrations by an additional safety factor.
- The antifreeze solution should only be a factory pre-mixed; use of factory pre-mixed solutions is essential to ensure the proper concentration level and solution integrity.
- Antifreeze solutions should only be used with the approval of the local authority having jurisdiction.

The full NFPA Safety Alert Regarding Antifreeze in Residential Sprinkler Systems and more information on this topic can be found at

Category: Blog, Fire Codes, Fire Research, News | 1 Comment »

Court Dismisses Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA) Lawsuit

August 30th, 2010 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

The Commonwealth Court of PA has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the PBA and other petitioners against the PA Department of Labor and Industry (L&I). The lawsuit, filed last year, was an attempt to stop the enforcement of the adopted 2009 IRC requiring fire sprinklers in one- and two-family homes and townhomes. The court had previously denied an injunction filed by the PBA to stop the enforcement.

In an opinion issued on August 25, 2010 the court cited The Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (PCCA) enacted by the General Assembly in 1999 and its application to “construction, alteration, repair and occupancy of all buildings in Pennsylvania. “ The court affirms that Pennsylvania’s Uniform Construction Code (UCC) is “an effort to insure uniform, modern construction standards and regulations, and to promote safety, health and sanitary construction throughout the Commonwealth.”

In its lawsuit the PBA claimed that “the new and amended provisions of the 2009 codes, especially the sprinkler requirements, have the effect of increasing the cost of an average newly-constructed home by approximately $15,000.00 and that “the additional costs will have a significant impact on the demand for their home building and remodeling services, and will adversely affect the availability of financing of homes.” Their claim additionally asserted that the PCCA action is unconstitutional.

Citing the intent of the PCCA, the court ruled that “ultimately, the rules, regulations and standards of the regulatory agency must be reasonable, understandable, available, and must not violate the constitutional rights of any citizen.” The court found that “petitioners were represented at each stage of the process of L&I’s adoption of the 2009 version of the UCC. The fact that their input failed to carry the day…does not make the process unconstitutional.” They found “their argument disingenuous.”

This action by the court represents a great victory for the people of PA. All new homes will be built to meet the standards of life safety now included in all model codes.

View Court Document

Maria Figueroa, NFPA

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Baltimore, MD Passes Residential Fire Sprinkler Requirement

June 30th, 2010 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

On June 24, 2010, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Council President Bernard “Jack Young, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (District-14), Councilman Warren Branch (District-13) and Fire Chief James Clack to sign into law City Council Bill 10-0437, Residential Code – Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems. Beginning July 1, 2010, all new one and two-family homes built in Baltimore City will be required to have residential fire sprinklers. The City Council passed the landmark legislation on June 21, 2010. Baltimore becomes the largest city in the United States to require these life saving devices in all new residential construction.

“I would like to thank Councilwoman Clarke for her continued efforts to increase fire safety in Baltimore,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. “With this legislation, combined with other efforts, including reduced rotating firehouse closures effective July 1 and continued outreach to provide free smoke alarms to City residents, we can continue to reduce fire related deaths.”

Residential fire sprinklers have proven their effectiveness in saving lives across Maryland. Since the early 1990’s when state law mandated sprinklers in new multi-family homes and townhouses, there have been no fire deaths in these protected structures. More than half of Maryland’s municipalities and nine counties have adopted similar requirements for one and two-family homes.

“Sprinklers save lives,” added Councilwoman Clarke, the lead sponsor of the bill. “This bill is a step in the right direction of safer homes for all our citizens.”

“Home blazes are the leading cause of fire death in our city, and residential fire sprinklers will give our citizens crucial time to escape,” said Fire Chief James Clack. “Working smoke alarms only alert occupants to a fire, but residential sprinklers act quickly to control blazes before they become deadly.”

The Mayor also announced that the City is increasing its funding for the Fire Department’s free smoke alarm program. Funding was increased from $80,000 last year to $100,000 for this upcoming year. The smoke alarms installed by the Fire Department have lithium batteries that last 10 years.

The Fire Department has installed over 15,000 lithium battery smoke alarms as part of this program. Residents can request a smoke alarm for their home by calling the Smoke Detector Hotline at (410) 396-7283.

Category: Blog, Fire Codes, News | 1 Comment »

Fire Sprinkler Webinar Provides Plumbing Contractors An Introduction To The NFPA 13D Standard

February 4th, 2010 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

Webinar presentation will educate plumbing contractors on the NFPA 13D standard for the installation of sprinkler systems in one and two family homes.

A new webinar has been prepared by Fire Smarts, LLC on behalf of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association (PHCC) to educate plumbing contractors across the nation on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 13D standard that covers the installation of sprinkler systems in one and two family homes. The webinar is part of the online training offered by the PHCC.

This webinar is available for online viewing

Click on the following link to access this webinar online -

Webinar – Introduction to NFPA 13D Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems for One and Two Family Homes

The “Introduction to NFPA 13D Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems for One and Two Family Homes” webinar will be presented by fire protection industry expert, Russ Leavitt, SET, CFPS, on February 10, 2010 at 3:00pm EST. Mr. Leavitt will educate participants about the NFPA code development process and the requirements for designing and installing fire sprinklers in single and two family homes. Participants will learn how this standard is organized and will be introduced to the requirements for materials and components, design criterion, and installation practices for residential fire sprinkler systems.

“With the recent addition of residential fire sprinkler requirements into the International Residential Code, there is no question that these systems will become a standard component in new home construction across the country,” said Ryan J. Smith, President of Fire Smarts, LLC. “There is a need and an incredible opportunity for plumbing contractors to assist in providing these services.”

The “Residential Fire Sprinklers Market Growth and Labor Demand Analysis” published by Fire Smarts, LLC in September 2008, projects that over 7000 additional positions for sprinkler installation will be needed as residential fire sprinkler requirements are adopted and widely enforced across the country over the next decade. An adequate amount of skilled labor is essential to ensuring that residential sprinkler systems can be properly and cost-effectively installed. A growing number of industry experts agree that plumbing contractors play a critical role in the successful implementation of residential fire sprinkler code requirements.

“There is a lot of interest by PHCC members in this new market,” said Skip Pfeffer, PHCC’s President. “We cannot afford to lose this market—especially in the current economy. I encourage all PHCC members and potential members to participate.”

Registration is open to all interested parties. For more information and to register for this webinar visit [Registration is no longer available for this webinar]. This webinar is another residential fire sprinkler educational and training opportunity that is being offered by the PHCC in partnership with Fire Smarts.

About PHCC: The PHCC – National Association is the oldest trade association in the construction industry and the premiere organization for the plumbing, heating and cooling professional. Since 1883, PHCC has been the leader in promotion, advancement, education and training. Today PHCC has more than 4100 contractor members from open and union shops, who work in the residential, commercial, new construction, industrial and service and repair industry segments.

About Fire Smarts, LLC: Fire Smarts, LLC is a leading provider of fire protection educational and training resources. The company operates the home fire protection resource website, Residential Fire Sprinklers .com ( ), frequently publishes articles and reports on the latest industry developments and utilizes its team of Fire Smarts Faculty members to create custom training solutions for contractors, fire and building officials, and business organizations based on NFPA standards.

Category: Blog, Fire Codes, News | 7 Comments »

California Adopting 2009 IRC With The Residential Fire Sprinkler Requirement

January 13th, 2010 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

The State of California has adopted building code changes that will require all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses built in the state starting January 1, 2011, to be equipped with life-saving fire sprinkler systems.

The California State Building Standards Commission voted yesterday unanimously by a margin of 10-0 in favor of adopting the 2010 California Residential Code, which includes the 2009 International Residential Code as established by the International Code Council in September 2008. With this action, California becomes the third state to formally adopt the code. As the most populous state in the U.S., this is a huge victory for proponents of life safety. The new code requirement becomes effective January 1, 2011.

“This is another step forward in our efforts to eradicate the home fire death problem. By requiring home fire sprinklers in new homes, California adds an important safeguard for the people in the state,” said Jim Shannon, NFPA President. “We are hopeful their action will lead to more states doing the same in order to save lives from fire.”

The residential sprinkler requirement was voted into the 2009 IRC Code by building code officials from all over the U.S., gaining more than two-thirds of the vote. This demonstrated that officials very clearly see the need to require sprinkler technology as a life-saving measure.

It took a lot of hard work and dedication for this to become a reality. The CAL Fire-Office of the State Fire Marshal took an early lead position, by bringing stakeholders to the table to study the feasibility of adopting this code. The Residential Fire Sprinkler Task Force issued Phase I and Phase II of their final report in June and July of 2009, respectively.

NFPA Regional Manager Ray Bizal actively participated in the task force. “The California homebuilders did not oppose the adoption of the requirement,” said Bizal. The California Building Industry Association also participated. Everyone on the ground worked cooperatively towards the goal. Their model is to be emulated.

Category: Blog, Fire Codes, News | 14 Comments »