!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee8ed8dfa970d-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee8ed8dfa970d-120wi|alt=Tony|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Tony|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee8ed8dfa970d!I think the greatest impediment – to the home fire sprinkler requirement - is refusal of local governments to recognize the value that fire sprinklers provide in the home. Financial credits for fire impact fees, ad valorem property taxes, service delivery fees, water connection fee crehttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee8ed7254970d-pidits, zoning/density incentives, fire flow credits, street width reductions and numerous other financhttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee8ed7254970d-piial incentives can be put on the table by local government in order to properly reflect the value of home fire sprinklers.
While this approach takes real work and leadership at the local level, and is not as easy as the “pass an ordinance and mandate it” approach. I am convinced it is the proper method to remove some, if not all, of the financial arguments against sprinklers.
In many states, a blanket mandate approach is no longer even an option. That does not mean we should give up in those states. It just means we need to work smarter with an aggressive incentive package. Even in those states where a mandate is still legal, we should still reflect the value provided to the community by way of incentives. Just because we can mandate without incentives, that does not mean we should.
If home fire sprinklers are as valuable as we say they are to the fire service, community infrastructure, sustainability and life safety, (and I think they definitely are that valuable) then we should clearly reflect that value in a financial return to the homeowner and builder for taking on the responsibility for their own fire protection rather than relying on local government services.
Read the Fire Protection Research Foundation Incentives for the Use of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems in U.S. Communities study report.
Anthony Apfelbeck is Fire Marshal/Building Official/Division Chief of City of Altamonte Springs, FL. He is a member of the Florida Building Commission Fire Technical Advisory Committee and NFPA 1 Fire Code Technical Committee.