The International Code Council (ICC) has stopped a proposal to mandate fire sprinklers in new residential construction projects across New York, citing limited benefits and greatly increased costs, according to a newspaper report.
The proposal would have required sprinklers in all new single- and multifamily homes and townhouses, according to the Long Island Business News. If approved by the ICC, the rule could have been added to the New York State Building Code.
Instead, the ICC has opted to make the installation of fire sprinklers voluntary, which was applauded by builders.
“A mandate can be a very expensive proposition, particularly in larger homes, and many times unnecessary,” Robert Wieboldt, vice president of the Long Island Builders Institute, told the newspaper. Wieboldt says a “major push” to change the state building code came “mostly from the fire people and [sprinkler] manufacturers.”
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are much more critical when it comes to saving lives, Wieboldt adds.
The newspaper reported a 2006 U.S. Fire Administration study on the presence of working smoke alarms in residential fires from 2001 to 2004 revealed that 88 percent of fatal fires in single-family homes occurred in homes without functioning smoke alarms.
The problem “is not homes without sprinklers, the problem is homes without working smoke alarms,” according to Philip LaRocque, executive vice president of the New York State Builders Association Inc.
Requiring fire sprinklers in all new homes would be a significant expense for consumers and have a detrimental impact on housing affordability across New York State, LaRocque told the newspaper.
According to the International Association of Fire Chiefs, hundreds of jurisdictions in at least 25 states have adopted sprinkler requirements with little or no effect on local housing markets.