How one community fire sprinklered 99 percent of its new homes--without an ordinance

Blog Post created by freddurso Employee on Dec 15, 2016

If you're looking for a lesson on obtaining homebuilder support for fire sprinklers, look to Camas, Washington. 


Failing to secure an ordinance in 2003 to fire sprinkler the town's new homes, fire officials there developed another tactic: offer financial incentives to builders. The city began waiving fire impact fees on new homes equipped with fire sprinklers. According to an article that appeared on Fire Engineering, "the fee in Camas is 20 cents per square foot, or $700 for a 3,500-square-foot house, an amount that lessened the extra cost to builders of adding sprinklers."


Moreover, when builders asked for waivers to the fire code, city officials pitched home fire sprinklers. Narrower roads and an increased number of lots were some of the outcomes of the compromise. Sprinkler protection, stated the article, "would offset any increased risk in loosening the fire code."


The homebuilders bit. The number of sprinklered homes in Camas has swelled to about 7,500. This slow-and-steady approach to fire sprinkler acceptance also led to the passage of a sprinkler ordinance this year. The local building industry association, according to the article, submitted a letter in opposition, but did not testify against it during hearings.


"It was a very emotional moment for me," Randy Miller, deputy fire marshal for the Camas-Washougal Fire Department, said about the passage of the ordinance. "It's like a weight was taken off my shoulders."


Learn about all of the "trade-ups" homebuilders and developers can take advantage of if they fire sprinkler their homes.