Sprinkler Mandate Showers Focus on Life Safety


If a new national standard is issued on the use of copper pipes or the size of a home’s septic tank, the attention span of an electronic security and life-safety contractor goes right down the drain. If it has nothing to do with wiring, annunciators and controllers, dealers and integrators don’t want to hear anything of it.

That said, a new addition to the safety codes of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Code Council (ICC) should get some attention. They could make automatic fire sprinklers as ubiquitous to the total life safety of a residence as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

The code additions require fire sprinklers in all new single-family homes and duplexes. In localities and states that adopt the revisions, homebuilders will need to be sure that a home has a fire sprinkler system just as much as they need to make sure it has lighting, plumbing and gas.

While the change won’t have a direct impact on what most life-safety systems contractors install in homes, it will affect the need for installers to integrate their system with the monitoring of sprinkler systems, as well as necessitate clear communication with the sprinkler-system contractor.

Homebuilders have usually been the first to criticize mandated home sprinkler systems. However, officials in cities already with sprinkler requirements say they have seen little that supports the contention that the new codes will cause a substantial rise in the price of new homes – nor any reason why residential sprinklers will discourage homeowners from including other life-safety systems.

John Jennings heads systems contractor Safeguard Security and Communications in Scottsdale, Ariz., which has already had a residential sprinkler ordinance in effect for two decades. Drawing from his experience, Jennings says dealers and integrators have nothing to fear from the new codes. If anything, it will be a benefit to their business.

“It’s not anything to worry about,” says Safeguard’s CEO. “People recognize that the sprinkler puts out a fire, but where there’s a fire, there’s smoke.”

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