Wednesday, February 9, 2011


A Pennsylvania state legislator has made a move to repeal the mandate that requires sprinkler systems in new homes in Pennsylvania.

Republican Rep. Garth Everett, of the 84th Legislative District, on Monday introduced House Bill 377 that seeks to remove the directive from the Uniform Construction Code that requires a sprinkler system in all new single- and dual-family home construction from 2011 on.

Known as the “sprinkler mandate,” state lawmakers debated the issue last fall and considered delaying the action for a year, but the state House failed to pass it. The new law went into effect Jan. 1.

Advocates said the sprinklers will save people’s homes from fire and prevent death or injury among firefighters and residents. Everett disagreed with that assertion, claiming it would particularly burden rural residents who aren’t on a municipal water system.

The new rule has raised the hackles of builders and other home construction-related businesses. Several factors go into the cost of a residential sprinkler system — a home’s size, location and water system among them — and it can add anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 or more to a new home’s construction costs, according to the Pennsylvania Builders Association.

Home builders have said that potential customers find themselves cutting back somewhere else in the house plans to accommodate the extra cost or dropping the idea of building altogether.

The Safe at Home Coalition, a group of state building associations, spoke out for Everett’s bill and against the sprinkler mandate during a Tuesday press conference.

“Our overall message is we are not against firefighters, fire safety or sprinklers,” said Melissa Etshied, director of public relations and public affairs for the Pennsylvania Builders Association, one of the coalition’s members. “We are against the mandate that takes away a consumer’s right to decide” what to do with their house.

Other coalition members are the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Manufactured Housing Association and Modular Building Systems Association.


Anonymous said...

As the housing industry tries to recover, the last thing we need is more mandates to drive the first time buyer farther away from home ownership. I beleive in building a safe home for both the residents and the fire fighters, but sprinklers should be the decision of the owner not the government or fire companies. Every dollar that is spent on requirements or mandates leaves less for the customer's wants and needs, if the prospective buyer isn't priced out completely. My bigger fear is the same as it is with smoke detectors; they only save lives if they are properly maintained. We know it will cost much more to maintain the system on an annual basis as opposed to half a dozen 9 volt batteries every 6 months.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter how much we yell and scream, sprinklers are here to stay. Live with it. And yes it will hurt my sales as a new home builder.

Anonymous said...

Wow as a Home Builder you aren't very u aren't very up to speed on what is going on in the world. This should be repealed this week. I feel bad for the ppl who hav u build their home.

Anonymous said...

As a police officer in a major metropolitan area for 36years I have been involved or first on the scene for many fires. I have never had an occasion where someone burned to death. Even on one occasion where a suspect poured gasoline on himself and lit himself on fire in front of me! He was immediately tackled and put out. The sudden intake of heat and toxic fumes killed him according to the fire department. People are killed by the smoke or toxic fumes produced before they burn. Smoke and heat detectors are an incredible deterent! Saying sprinkler systems will save firefighters lives is lame. A lot of firefighters are killed in buildings with sprinkler systems. People don't keep up their smoke detectors with batteries, who is going to maintain this costly system. In an economy that is fighting for home owner survival, this is ridiculous.