County commissioners, firefighters, and community members in Hartsville, Tennessee were able to see firsthand last week the value of residential fire sprinklers when representatives from the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) brought a side-by-side burn and sprinkler demonstration trailer to town to promote requiring sprinklers in new residential construction.
The demonstration underscores how rapidly fire spreads in homes and how quickly home fire sprinklers, a requirement in all U.S. model building codes, can extinguish the flames. (NOTE: See a live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration in the video above). New homes today are often built with unprotected lightweight construction and filled with lots of synthetic materials that burn hotter and faster than older homes. According to fire safety experts, we can have as little as two minutes to escape a home fire compared to eight to 10 minutes in previous decades.
According to an article in the HartsvilleVidette, “Commissioners Watch Demonstration of Fire Sprinklers,” The County Commission is looking at updating the ICC building codes according to the 2018 version, but the state legislature has given local jurisdictions the option of removing the sprinkler requirement in newly built homes.
Commission Chairman Dwight Jewell, who served as Trousdale County’s building inspector until his retirement in 2018, invited NFSA to put on the demonstration. “It’s in the code; we would have to make the decision to take it out,” he said in the article, adding that he supported keeping the sprinkler requirement in the code. “This is for us to have an informed decision so we can make that decision.”
The Codes & Zoning Committee plans to meet this month to determine whether it will recommend requiring sprinklers to the full Commission. The updated residential codes are scheduled to be voted upon at the Commission meeting on October 26.