"Home fire sprinklers should be a matter of consumer choice."
That's a popular argument made by sprinkler opponents, who balk at code requirements for this life-saving feature. Instead, they say they'll be glad to install the devices if a homeowner asks for them.
That's not what happened in New Jersey.
A news report on NJ.com, partly titled "Bamboozled," describes the rigmarole homeowner Ed Ondayko went through when he told his builder, Toll Brothers, he wanted fire sprinklers. "The safety and well-being of my family means everything to me," Ondayko, who works in the fire protection industry, told NJ.com. "One can replace their personal possessions and valuables, but nothing can replace the loss or disfigurement of a loved one due to a fire."
In an attempt to prevent these tragedies, Ondayko wanted Toll Brothers to install sprinklers in his new home in Monroe Township, New Jersey. The company wouldn't accommodate his request. A Toll Brothers representative in charge of the Monroe housing development noted in a letter that "we do not have the subcontractors and qualified personnel in place ... to grant this request and undertake a project such as this. He added, "we cannot commit to installing this particular feature in light of our current resources and expertise."
A subcontractor came forward on Ondayko's behalf and let Toll Brothers know he was qualified to perform the installation. Even though the contractor was already installing fire sprinklers at a Toll Brothers apartment complex in New Jersey, the company refused the offer, according to the NJ.com report.
After contacting the media, Toll Brothers met with Ondayko. According to the news report, Toll Brothers offered several options, including the option to have a Toll Brothers contractor install sprinklers. They refused to let Ondayko bring in his own contractor, even if that would cut installation costs. "It's basically their guy or no guy," Ondayko told NJ.com. Before making a decision, he's weighing his options.
"The primary response from homebuilders is that fire sprinklers should be the consumer's choice and not mandated," David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board and member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition, told NJ.com. "Unfortunately, as seen in the case with Mr. Ondayko, many homebuilders simply do not want to install sprinklers as it is not a primary, money-making option like carpets, granite countertops, or crown molding.
What are your thoughts on Toll Brothers' actions? Have you heard of or experienced a similar situation to Ondayko's? Let us know by commenting in the comments section below.