This month, Estero Fire District in Florida unanimously voted that fire sprinklers be included in all new, one- and two-family homes. The measure wasn't an easy feat, since sprinkler opponents diligently fought its passage, noting that installation costs would "price families out of the housing market," per an article that appeared on News-Press.com.
Countering this claim was the Estero Fire Rescue, which commissioned a study on the requirement's economic impact, a necessity for Floridian towns considering a sprinkler ordinance. According to the report, the average installation cost is $1.61 per sprinklered square foot, pennies above the national average of $1.35.
Additionally, developers would benefit from sprinkler "trade-ups," including increased hydrant spacing and longer dead-end streets, which allow additional building lots to be accessed, according to the study.
Chief Scott Vanderbrook with Estero Fire Rescue told News-Press.com that the ordinance, which could be challenged in court, might start a trend in surrounding communities. "I'm sure there are other communities watching what happens with the sprinkler ordinance," he said. "I'm sure they'll wait several months, maybe a year, to see if there are any challenges, see what the hurdles are."
Before their vote, Estero Fire District also heard convincing testimony from burn survivor Pam Elliott, a staunch supporter for home fire sprinklers. An op-ed she produced last year in support of the safety device received national attention. "Being burned is the most devastating thing anyone can experience," she told board members. "It embodies physical, emotional, and spiritual pain."
Are you in Twitter? If so, send a quick tweet to Estero Fire Rescue congratulating them for their work in passing a sprinkler ordinance.