Capt. James Culbertson with the Ventnor City Fire Department in New Jersey offered a well-written response, panning a new bill that would require sprinklers in new homes.
Here's a point-counterpoint synopsis of both editorials:
Opponent argument:"The New Jersey Builders Association figures mandating sprinkler systems would add $6,000 to the cost of a new home"
Culbertson's response: "The editorial states home fire sprinkler systems are a considerable cost. What would considerable cost be to the six people who perished in the recent Maryland, fire?
How about all of the many civilians and firefighters injured and killed over the years?
The difference between a $200,000 and $206,000 home with a 30-year mortgage at five-percent interest is approximately $1 per day. Many of us spend more than this for a cup of coffee each day."
Opponent argument:"There are also possible downsides to sprinkler systems, which can cause water damage out of proportion to a fire's threat. A sprinkler valve froze and burst recently at the Pathmark in Ventnor Heights."
Culbertson's response:"The pipe that broke was located in an unheated, uninsulated entry foyer. If sufficient heat, insulation, or sprinkler equipment designed for temperatures below freezing are in place, it's doubtful this would have occurred.
Opponent argument: "Homeowners should be allowed to decide if they want sprinklers or not."
Culbertson's response: "Government overreach as well as the interests of those with economic priorities are certainly factors in the discussion. However, everyone should understand that the interest of the fire service is purely civilian and fire safety and property loss control. Legislators, government officials, and homeowners should make it a point to talk with someone in the fire service before making decisions."