The legislative Regulation Review Committee in Connecticut has formally approved new safety codes, including a State Building Code, Fire Safety Code, and Fire Prevention Code that will fall short of nationally recognized standards and fire safety requirements. The Connecticut codes all go into effect by October, but none will include requirements for residential fire sprinklers that are part of nationally recognized safety codes. As a result, the Connecticut codes fall short of using proven measures to keep Connecticut families and firefighters safe from fire.
The previous version of the Connecticut codes, which the committee rejected, underwent an extensive, public approval process for more than 18 months that included input from experts in construction, development, engineering, and fire safety. The original proposed State Building Code included a provision that would require fire sprinklers in new townhome construction, but following fierce opposition from homebuilders and other special interests, state legislators who sit on the committee chose to strip that provision before approving the code.
“The breakdown of the code process in Connecticut is indicative of a larger problem that jeopardizes safety for residents across the country,” said NFPA President Jim Pauley. “The fact that months of work and input from experts was discarded at the eleventh hour behind closed doors shows how special interests like the homebuilders have hijacked this process. They continue to put their bottom line ahead of saving lives.”
The fire services community, first responders, burn advocates and others worked with the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition to support the fire sprinkler requirement in Connecticut because of sprinklers’ proven effectiveness in protecting people and property; the death rate is 81 percent lower in homes with fire sprinklers than in homes without them.
Every edition of U.S. model building codes since 2009 has included the requirement to install fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. The use of current codes ensures jurisdictions benefit from the latest research, technology, and learning regarding safety. Research has shown that the clear majority of consumers expect the government to implement and enforce up-to-date codes.
“Connecticut residents should not be forced to live in substandard homes when the code process is taken over by the special interests,” Pauley said. “Connecticut legislators have a responsibility to keep people safe, and they have shirked that responsibility.”
This action comes after the much publicized death of a six-year old girl in a Plainfield, Connecticut, home in 2016 only months after the family moved into the newly built home. That home has now been rebuilt with sprinklers, a clear admission that this simple technology saves lives.
Failure to use the latest version of fire and life safety codes or cherry-picking requirements within them can lead to safety breakdowns in communities. Get to know NFPA's Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem and learn how adhering to these eight elements can keep your community safe from fire and other hazards.