Another fire marshal supports sprinklers in residential occupancies. Ed Ruckriegel, City of Madison, Wisconsin fire marshal explains that the State of Wisconsin “Department of Commerce has developed rules requiring the installation of automatic fire sprinklers in all new residential buildings with three or more dwelling units,” and has proposed them to the State Legislature.
Ed has many good points in this article,
This opportunity to save lives should not be missed. The Legislature can make Wisconsin safer and bring our building codes up to the same standard used in most other states. More than a century’s worth of data shows that fire sprinkler systems save lives.
On the local level, the city of Madison Fire Department has responded to many fires that have been controlled or completely extinguished by fire sprinklers. In at least two incidents, the occupant in the room of fire origin awoke when the sprinklers activated, controlling the fire around them — saving two lives. In each case, the cause of the fire was careless smoking — the leading cause of fire fatalities nationally. The last four fire deaths in Madison were caused by careless smoking and occurred in buildings without fire sprinklers.”
Short of preventing smoking in dwelling units, fire sprinklers are the best option. Many cities are banning smoking in public places but banning in someones home is a whole different beast. Maybe I’m getting off the subject a little but I have a point. Careless smoking is not the only culpret for fires. Unattended candles, and fires in the kitchen follow behind careless smoking. My point is this, accidents happen and lives are at risk. Sprinklers can help save innocent people that are living in the same building where accidents happen, sometimes, to the fault of no one.
Opposition to mandated residential sprinkler systems traditionally relates to the financial impact. The argument is that the cost of installing fire sprinklers will drive up the costs of construction and subsequently drive down the availability of affordable housing.
It is the same argument presented when the fire service and Department of Commerce pushed for smoke alarms in the early 1970s.
In reality, fire sprinklers cost less than $2 per square foot to install. Fire sprinklers cost less than the carpet or cabinets. In fact, when the builder calculates all of the savings permitted by the building code when fire sprinklers are installed, it is less expensive to build a building with fire sprinklers than a building without fire sprinklers. The financial argument is all wet.
I read an article (I’ll have to find it) before I started this blog where the author provided a complete cost break down and articulates well why the “financial impact” theory doesn’t float (to continue the pun). Look for a link here soon.
Mr. Ruckriegel, if you happen by this corner of cyberspace let me know if the the fire marshals office has a blog or a website that supports residential sprinklers e-mail me and I’ll post it up on the “Vote Res” page. The site, or blog doesn’t even have to promote residential fire sprinklers.