Calling it “Mandatory fire sprinkler systems in homes / An overreach” the Press of Atlantic City ran an editorial yesterday against home fire sprinkler requirements in new home construction.
The editorial, clearly citing opponents’ usual myths and red herring arguments, provides inflated cost factors for the systems. To make its point, the editorial states that the N.J. Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB), a proponent of home fire sprinkler requirements, “puts the cost of home sprinkler systems at 2 percent to 4 percent of a home's total cost - or up to $10,000 on a $250,000 home.” David Kurasz, Executive Director of NJFSAB shoots back in a tersely worded comment; “I can tell you that I was not contacted or reached out with regards to this false quote. I did not know it was the policy of this paper to come right out and lie.”
The editorial also states that the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) did not implement the provision in the new international building code in the first place. But wait, the DCA did adopt the provision during the last cycle. The governor's own appointed red tape committee recommended that the adopted regulation of fire sprinklers in new homes remain intact. Governor Chris Cristie then exerted executive privilege to reverse the action of the DCA, removing the requirement from the adopted code. It was after the governor appointed an “opponent friendly” head of DCA that the regulatory agency excluded the requirement from its most recent adoption.
Calling the provision an “overreach” of government takes advantage of the current overall mood against any kind of government mandate. Misinforming people and failing to acknowledge that fire sprinklers are included in all model codes as minimum standards of safety providing reasonable requirements to protect life and property in case of fire is just plain wrong. U.S. consumers expect that the products they buy come equipped with minimum safety standards, including new homes. Why is it acceptable that special interests win to allow substandard construction in new homes? Don’t the people of NJ deserve the inclusion of minimum standards in the homes they buy?
The life safety community in NJ has united to advocate for the provision and has turned to the legislation - where clearer heads may prevail - to move this minimum requirement forward. Supported by NFPA, the NJ Fire Sprinkler Coalition has been formed. Visit its website and take action to join in the effort.