It was a great day in Baltimore yesterday as a sea of residential fire sprinkler proponents gathered to support the position to leave the requirement in the IRC. The vote was soundly in support of the requirement; both from the committee and the floor.
The NAHB used NFPA's 99.45% survival rate statistic as the main reason why sprinklers should be left out of the code. Our own Gary Keith, VP of Operations did an excellent job rebutting this argument by explaining why that statistic is being used out of context because it includes all fires, even very small fires. He followed it by comparing the similar survival rate in motor vehicle crashes and the need to have safety features in cars to avoid deaths.
The IAFC, the USFA, and other important organizations joined NFPA in providing testimony supporting home fire sprinkler requirements. It was important to have the support of Habitat for Humanity of Texas.
The discussion from the committee members, after the motion was made to reject the change, was overwhelmingly in support of fire sprinklers in the home. Committee member Hellen Kessler said that she worried about the aging of America and the number of elderly and disabled people who need this protection in their home. Committee member Donald LeBrun declared that it is important to represent their members and keep the requirement in the code. He followed it by saying that it will continue to be "a long uphill battle to fight and I encourage you to do it." Committee member Roger Robertson indicated they should "leave it in the code, and let it play out." After the committee voted 7-4 against the proposed change, the NAHB asked for a floor vote, and to quote a floor participant; "it went down hard." The floor vote overwhelmingly affirmed the committee's vote and loud cheers could be heard. The moderator ended with "that motion clearly fails."
It is now up to the policy makers in the states and communities to promulgate the requirement. We must work extremely hard and follow through to make sure that this is accomplished.
(Photo Courtesy of Dan Gengler)