As we reported on this blog, the Geneva, Illinois, City Council recently voted not to require fire sprinkler its new homes. The lone dissenter of the 8-1 vote against sprinklers was Alderman Jeanne McGowan. Praising her in a recent letter to the editor was Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute.
"Kudos to Councilwoman Jeanne McGowan for taking a stand in support of the public safety community on this important issue," states Webb. "While this is a local decision, I have seen too many victims of fire disasters across the nation."
Installation cost estimates for fire sprinklers seemed to be why the city council voted the way they did; builders told members that sprinklering a single-family home could exceed $20,000. Webb took that claim to task. "It’s disconcerting for public safety officials when we hear about local jurisdictions rejecting sprinkler requirements in newly constructed homes," he stated. "It’s also disconcerting when opponents of fire sprinklers inflate the costs to bolster their arguments against automatic fire sprinklers.
"When it comes to safeguarding our homes where we spend a preponderance of our time, there’s still resistance in communities across our nation to make wise decisions that will save more lives."
Educate yourself on NFPA's research on home fire sprinklers. Furthermore, work with your local safety advocates and sprinkler industry to obtain state or regional estimates of installation costs. These localized numbers will help counter the opposition.