As reported in Leesburg Today the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development (BHCD) will cast its final vote today on amendments to the building code that includes removing the home fire sprinkler requirement. Homebuilders have lobbied strongly against the requirement on the idea that new homes are safer homes, that sprinklers are expensive and not worth the return on investment, and that a fire extinguisher in every kitchen is all that is needed.
Although NFPA statistics point to cooking equipment as the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries, smoking materials are the leading causes of home fire deaths. Roughly half of all home fire deaths result from incidents reported between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., when people will be sleeping. Twenty-four percent of all home fire deaths were caused by fires that started in the bedroom; 23% resulted from fires originating in the living room, family room, or den. NFPA statistics also reveal that over 40% of people injured in fires were attempting to fight the fire or rescue someone else.
While the use of a fire extinguisher by a trained individual on an incipient fire may be beneficial, the mandated requirement of a fire extinguisher in the kitchen is not an acceptable alternative to home fire sprinklers. NFPA went on record in VA as opposing this code change amendment recommended by homebuilders. It remains to be seen if fallacy and profits trump proven research and life safety arguments.
Coincidentally today I reported here about a fire in VA Beach, VA that severely damaged three homes built in 2006. What is it going to take? Home fire sprinkler advocates will continue to ask this question. Will politicians and bureaucrats continue to be swayed by the "new homes are safer homes" fallacy? Let's hope that the VA BHCD will make the right decision today.