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ICC Approves Residential Fire Sprinklers in the International Residential Code

September 21st, 2008 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com

Voting members of the leading building code body in the nation, the International Code Council (ICC), overwhelmingly supported a residential fire sprinkler requirement for all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses.

Fire service and building code officials united to approve the requirement and countered opposition. The code proposal, RB64, easily overcame a procedural requirement that mandated a super-majority of two-thirds approval. This represents an unprecedented step forward in advancing home fire safety in the United States.

The vote, held today in Minneapolis, was supported by 73 percent of the voting members in attendance.

The IRC Fire Sprinkler Coalition, an association of more than 100 fire service, building code official, and safety organizations representing 45 states, assumed a leadership position and secured unified support for this issue over the past 18 months.

“Our team worked hard to rally support throughout the United States for a residential fire sprinkler requirement, but our supporters deserve the recognition for showing up en masse in Minneapolis,” said Ronny J. Coleman, president of the IRC Fire Sprinkler Coalition. “They know from experience that sprinklers are the answer to the nation’s fire problem.”

Fire deaths in the United States realized a dramatic decline over the past three decades as smoke alarms became common – today, more than 95 percent of homes have them. Still, more than 3,000 people die each year from fire, and a home burns every 80 seconds. Residential sprinklers are the only fire protection technology that works to rapidly contain fire, effectively giving families more time to escape the deadly heat and poisonous gases of an unchecked fire. Therefore, the proposal’s passage has also pleased home safety advocates across the country.

“We work with families every day that are directly affected by the ravages of fire,” said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. “We are thrilled not only because this moment has taken decades of demanding work to achieve, but because it provides protection for potential victims of future fires.”

Kaaren Mann, a fire safety advocate and the mother of a fire victim stated in her testimony, “the cost to put sprinklers into the home where my daughter died would have been less than what I had to pay for the flowers at her funeral.”

The sprinkler mandate will first appear in the 2009 International Residential Code® (IRC), which will be published by the end of the year. Forty-six states use the IRC as the basis of regulating new home construction.

“The vote was a historic moment in residential fire safety – and is a significant step in a long journey before sprinklers are installed in every new home,” noted Ronny J. Coleman, president of the IRC Fire Sprinkler Coalition. “We’re now going to move forward at the state and local level to ensure new code requirement is adopted.”

The potential impact of this code change is discussed at “Residential Fire Sprinklers Market Growth and Labor Demand Analysis

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 21st, 2008 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Blog, Fire Prevention, Public Support. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

9 responses about “ICC Approves Residential Fire Sprinklers in the International Residential Code”

  1. MikeP said:

    This is a kind of going around the problem and showing they did something. The code shouldn’allow to build from wood in the first place. There is no fire problem in Europe and other places where houses are from brick, not wood.

  2. Ryan Smith said:

    MikeP, while you are correct that building construction material plays an important role in saving the structure from fire, the need for residential fire sprinklers is a separate matter as these are primarily life safety systems designed to control a fire so that the people have time to exit the structure safety.

    Residential Fire Sprinklers not only control how fast the fire spreads, but they also help to reduce the amount of toxic smoke in the structure that is often a significant cause of injury.

    Studies have shown that materials used in modern household furniture burns faster than the materials previously used. This reduces the amount of time people have to escape, making it all the more important to have a residential fire sprinkler system in place.

  3. Ron Tillerson said:

    This is an additional load for the enforcement personnel of fire departments nation wide where the IRC is adopted without amending this out. These systems will not be maintained as they should be (this is enough of a problem with commercial systems), as enforcement will not be able to keep up. With property losses (yeah, yeah, not property protection) and any injury or loss of life, and liability law suits will be pandemic.

  4. Jim said:

    Although I understand your comment, Ron Tillerson, I do not believe you are correct. The municipality having jurisdiction could impose a requirement on the Area Developers to ensure a local contractor, approved and licensed to perform inspections and repairs, is retained to perform annual inspections on residences on a district by district basis.

    This would alleviate the stress on the gov’t agencies that typically monitor commercial systems, and provide a means by which the residential home owner can be confident their sprinkler system is maintained.

    I’m not certain how US municipalities or developers handle park, and public area maintenance, but in Calgary, Canada an annual fee is charged per household, based on the size and value of their property to fund the upkeep of these areas. The same could be imposed for sprinkler maintenance.

  5. Frank Marsters said:

    In 1998, I was recognized by my City as being the first custom homebuilder to build a sprinkled custom home and further, offer it as an option on future homes, so I’m in favor of sprinklers. I’m can’t say that I favor the mandated, in your face vote of the IRC, but think that it seems to create a great business opportunity.

    Would you be so kind as to assist me with the following?

    Since I’ve learned of the vote, I’ve tried to find how to go about getting licensed to install residential sprinklers. (TEXAS)

    My research does not readily reflect the States that require adhearance to the IRC.

    Is there a possibility that the “vote” could be resinded, delayed, or that individual Cities or munies could simply vote to exclude this portion of the Code?

    If a State has adopted a Code – say the IRC, can Cities within that State, adopt another Code?

    Thanks,
    Frank Marsters

  6. Ryan Smith said:

    Frank, you certainly seem like an innovative and forward thinking individual. Being recognized for building the first custom home in your city with sprinklers is a great accomplishment.

    The ICC has a website that shows which ICC codes are in use in each state. Here’s the link ICC Code Adoption

    The passing of this code change puts residential fire sprinkler requirements into the 2009 edition of the IRC. Further, the code language states that the code will become effective on January 1, 2011.

    You are correct that each state and city has a different timetable for adopting the new code and it is possible that some cities may choose to amend this requirement out in their area. This does become a challenge for the city because they would essential be saying that an internationally recognized code does not apply in that city and the liability exposure could be significant.

    Typically, cities are required to at least follow the state codes. Cities may adopt more strict code requirements if they choose.

    I hope this helps in your research.

  7. National Association of Home Builders Requests Appeal of IRC Residential Fire Sprinklers Requirement | Residential Fire Sprinklers .com said:

    [...] 30, 2008 with the International Code Council (ICC). The appeal targets the recent passing of RB64-07/08 to the International Residential Code (IRC) which requires residential fire sprinklers to be installed in one and two family homes and town [...]

  8. Gerry said:

    Nice if your water supply is a well and even better if your in a flood zone. Thats okay we will just pass it on to the home owner.

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