2009 IAFC President Larry J. Grorud

Home Sprinkler Battle Continues

The ink is barely dry on the requirement for residential fire sprinklers in the International Code Council’s 2009 International Building Code. The final appeal from the National Association of Home Builders was defeated in December 2008, and on Jan. 23, the International Association of Fire Chiefs warned its members that homebuilder associations are introducing bills in state legislatures to ensure building codes do not require fire sprinklers in newly built homes. IAFC said the IRC Fire Sprinkler Coalition reported bills have been filed in Arizona and in North Dakota, with fire service organizations girding for legislative fights in both states over the legislation.

IAFC's Fire & Life Safety Section (FLSS) is monitoring anti-residential sprinkler legislation and asked fire chiefs to contact Joelle Fishkin at 703-537-4843 or jfishkin@iafc.org "if this type of legislation emerges in your region, so FLSS can share the information with the coalition, which is coordinating opposition to these homebuilder-initiated bills."

The Arizona bill (HB 2267) would amend Section 1, Title 9, chapter 7, article 1 by adding section 9-807, which says in part: "A municipality shall not adopt a code or ordinance or part of a uniform code or ordinance that prohibits a person or entity from choosing to install or equip or not install or equip fire sprinklers in a single family detached residence or any residential building that contains not more than two dwelling units. A municipality shall not impose any fine, penalty or other requirement on any person or entity for choosing to install or equip or not install or equip fire sprinklers in such a residence. This section does not apply to any code or ordinance that requires fire sprinklers in a residence and that was adopted before December 31, 2007." The Arizona House of Representatives Rules Committee gave the bill its second reading Jan. 21, 2009.

"We have spent considerable time working to help save lives by voting in favor of including residential sprinklers in the model codes," said IAFC President Larry J. Grorud. "We know there is significant work to be completed to ensure sprinkler requirements are adopted across the country, and we will not let this anti-residential sprinkler legislation deter our efforts to reduce fire loss in America. I urge all fire service members to commit to defeating such legislation. Fire sprinklers save lives, and the public needs to know how important this is for their families, communities, and the fire service." Grorud is chief of the Janesville, Wis., Fire Department.

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