Damages following Hurricane Harvey could reach $180 billion, per a recent article by Reuters. Before rebuilding begins, people are weighing in on how it should be done. The conversation is part of a larger, national debate on the necessity of building codes amid fire and environmental hazards.
Texas, specifically, has "one of the most relaxed approaches to building codes, inspections, and other protections," states an article by Bloomberg, adding that it's one of four states near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts without a statewide building code. As for fire sprinkler requirements, the state cannot enforce local sprinkler provisions in new homes unless an ordinance was in place before 2009, according to NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative. Currently promoting this technology with an overall intent of passing a fire sprinkler requirement is the Texas Fire Sprinkler Coalition.
Making sure fire sprinkler requirements stay off the books is the Texas Association of Builders. According to the Bloomberg article, this group "boasted" about killing legislation last year that would have given local jurisdictions the authority to create their own fire sprinkler laws. The association also fought other building code proposals it deemed "onerous."
However, constructing in accordance to model building codes in a post-Harvey Houston could put safety on display. Creating safer homes, particularly those equipped with fire sprinklers, can serve as a lesson in fire risk reduction. "Disasters don't have to be devastating," Eleanor Kitzman, former Texas state insurance commissioner, told Bloomberg. "We can't prevent the event, but we can mitigate the damage."
Read the complete Bloomberg article for more information.