In a move that can only be described as sadly ironic, the Home Builders Association of Alabama received the Association Excellence Award at the annual awards program at the National Executive Officers Council Seminar last week. The National Executive Officers Council is part of the National Association of Home Builders. According to their website, the award recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of state and local Home Builder Association programs. The Alabama project was the successful effort to pass a statewide building code omitting the provision for home fire sprinklers.
This is troubling for two reasons. First, all model building codes now include the provision for home fire sprinklers in new one and two family homes. Choosing to adopt a code that is less than the minimum level of safety equates to allowing substandard construction. Second, and more disconcerting, is the fact that the state of Alabama has the fourth highest fire death rate amongst the 50 states. The national fire death rate in 2007 was 10.9 deaths per million population. In Alabama it was 22.3.
The risk of dying in a home fire decreases by 80% when home fire sprinklers are present. The effort in Alabama to ignore this proven life safety technology is irresponsible, to reward it, outrageous.