As previously reported on this blog, the Floridian town of Estero is considering to require sprinklers in all new homes. Fire officials there and elsewhere have ramped up their support for this effort; they recently held a live burn/sprinkler demonstration that gave the press an eye-opening glimpse into the dangers of today's home fires. During the event, Estero Fire Resue's Fire Marshal Phillip Green cited key NFPA statistics complementing the demonstration and data supporting the need for sprinklers. In Florida, he noted, there were close to 17,000 fires in single-family homes in 2013 resulting in 124 deaths and $210 million in direct damages.
Local jurisdictions in Florida are permitted to require sprinklers, pending a study on "the economic impact of such a mandate on homeowners," according to a news story that appeared on News-Press.com. Estero Fire commissioned such a report, which concluded that homeowners would experience significant savings over a 30-year period if sprinklers are installed in new, one- and two-family homes. Furthermore, developers would benefit from sprinkler "trade-ups," including increased hydrant spacing and longer dead-end streets, which allow additional building lots to be accessed. (Get the full list of builder trade-ups on the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.)
Savings would also stem from reduced inspection, permit, and plan-review fees as well as reduced water-flow requirements, stated the News-Press story.
Despite these benefits, the Lee Building Industry Association is fighting this proposed requirement. "People don't want fire sprinklers in their homes," Brenda Thomas, the association's executive vice president, told a local publication. A survey commissioned by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition counters this claim.
Are you a Florida resident? Know someone with a passion for safety living there? Join the newly formed Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and add your support to the sprinkler push.