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Tempers flared following a recent vote by the New York Fire Prevention and Building Code Council to adopt the 2015 International Residential Code but remove its requirement to sprinkler all new, one- and two-family homes. Instead, the council opted to continue using the current code, which requires sprinklers only in wood frame residences exceeding two stories.
"You guys messed up," Jeff Wilkinson, president of the New York State Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, told the council, according to an article in the +Times Union.+ "You guys should be ashamed of yourselves."
Also not mincing words was the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC), an active member of the New York Sprinkler Initiative, which has been advocating for the sprinkler requirement for months. The group has been stressing the loss of two-year-old Nora Lamirande, who died in May from a fire in a New York home built in 2013. "I am deeply disappointed that in voting to remove residential sprinklers from the statewide building code, members of the Code Council have chosen to put profit ahead of safety,” said Jerry DeLuca, the association's executive director and CEO. "I also find it ironic that just last week the New York City Council required sprinklers in pet stores, yet the state of New York refuses to protect children such as two-year-old Nora in the same way."
Not surprising to sprinkler advocates was the emphasis placed on installation cost by council members. Representing the building industry on the council is William Tuyn, vice president of Forbes Capretto Homes, who believes "the newer home is the safer home, and our goal should not be to put in barriers to people getting themselves into newer, safer homes," according to the +Times Union. +Studies by UL and others confirm that new homes pose greater fire risks when compared to older homes.
The story also cites a Department of State study noting that fire sprinklers cut the amount of water needed to fight a fire in half when compared with what's needed by firefighters. Sprinkler cost was also analyzed, and the council's fire service official, Joseph Sauerwein, called the estimate inexpensive for the effects it has on life safety.
Despite the setback, NYSAFC is looking towards the future. The group plans to use grant money secured by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative to boost sprinkler education in its state. "We plan to utilize the funds...to undertake a public information and education program to inform the public and fire service of the benefits of home fire sprinklers," DeLuca tells NFPA. "It may take a couple of years to combat the misinformation spread by the builders and real estate agents, but we are not going to give up the fight on this."
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Determine your state's fire sprinkler requirements by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site, and learn how to get involved on a local level.
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