S.C Fire Sprinkler Bills

While Highland Park, Texas is moving forward with fire sprinkler requirements in new homes, South Carolina is having trouble passing sprinkler mandates.

This article from The Post and Courier; Charleston.net explains that There are two separate bills being proposed. A House bill is being proposed that will provide tax incentive of 80% of the cost of the sprinkler system up to $50,000.00. The Senate is proposing a bill that will provide 50% of the cost of the sprinkler system; 25% from the state the other 25% from local property tax relief. The States portion would only be made available if the local governments offered a property tax credit.

Obviously there are proponents and opponents to this system. One opponent, Governor Mark Sanford, argues that;

‘Although the property-owners who install fire sprinklers under this legislation will be the primary beneficiaries of increased fire safety, the taxpayers will shoulder nearly all of the costs.'”

I’m not a tax expert and don’t claim to know the ins and outs of our tax system. Having said that, it makes sense to me that the “taxpayers” would shoulder some burden for business getting tax breaks because it’s money not going into the system to pay for infrastructure. On the other hand, the sprinkler systems, once they’re installed and working, will save citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars if a fire ever breaks out in one of the formerly unsprinklered buildings. So yeah, it definitely is an investment but the investment will pay itself back 10 fold if even one fire breaks out.

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Huntley Reverses Fire Sprinkler Requirment in Single Family Dwellings

Wow. I’ve been watching this for several weeks now and the vote was held tonight in Huntley, Illinois to keep, or not to keep, a requirement for sprinklers in single family dwellings. I read the news on the Huntley Neighbors forum. I would have loved to have been there watching this unfold, but alas, I am in Kansas City and have responsibilities here that prevented me from traveling.

A couple of thoughts . . .

There was a builder on the board of trustees. Even though his vote was not the deciding factor (the vote was 4 to 2) he should have taken himself out of not only the vote but all debate on this issue. His title is Trustee for crying out loud. By definition he should be looking out for the interests of the citizens of his community not his own. I don’t know the man personally, nor do I intend to bash his character I just think that his profession as a builder and his duty to vote in the best interest of the people is a huge conflict of interest. In his defense, the man I’m sure truly believes he voted for the best interest of those who have put their trust in him. We are on polar sides of this issue. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

CORRECTION: My apologies. Turns out that the trustee in question did remove himself from the vote. And, this article indicates he will install sprinklers in his houses no matter how the vote ended up. [Daily Herald]

‘There’s no conflict of interest for me,’ Kanakaris said. ‘I will spend the $60,000 to put the sprinklers in the six homes regardless of the decision tonight.'”

Huntley ran. Pardon the pun, but when the fire got too hot the board of trustees (not all, but collectively) ran on this issue. Sure there are going to be growing pains with such a requirement. But Huntley, like many other progressive communities across the country could have worked all the kinks out of this before a requirement is mandated in the IRC. Think about it. What Huntley has been through most others will go through also at some time in the future. Some cities and towns will go through their growing pains before a mandatory requirement in the code, some will have to catch up after. It’s the difference between being proactive and reactive.

Anything to add? Hit the comments or e-mail me. I’ll continue to keep my eye on this very hot issue not only in Huntley but across the nation.

UPDATE: I defer to the Huntley Blog for commentary from someone directly affected by the reversal. Check it out. There’s a great pic of the supporters and a nice post of the proceedings.

Huntley Vote Tonight

I found another thread on the Huntley Neighbors forum that confirms the vote is tonight (Thursday) at 7:00PM CST. I wish I could travel up there and cover this on my own. I would love to have some pictures/video to post here. Just observing the forums and other discussions on line it sounds like there may be a lot of people at this meeting. If pics/video are allowed and there’s anyone willing to share I’d love to post some of it here at Fire Sprinklers.

Besides the Neighborhood Forum you can find more information regarding the vote at the Huntley Blog.

Here are the meeting minutes from the July Village Board meeting where, I believe, this issue was first brought up.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on this tonight and will post any news I hear as soon as I get it.

Huntley

Blogging is definitely NOT like riding a bicycle. It takes effort, and most of all time, to put some of this stuff together. I am back on track and will continue to post when time allows. I’ve been run ragged over the last couple of weeks and it’s only bound to get worse as my wife and I are expecting any day now. Please be patient.

One of the topics I’ve been paying really close attention to is Huntley, Illinois. The village board is considering rescinding a two year old requirement for sprinklers in single family dwellings. I’m pretty sure the vote by the village board is Thursday night. I know the vote is planned for early September. I’m just not sure if is this week or next. We’ll know by Friday morning if it’s this week.

Huntley Neighbors is a forum where residents are able to post comments, opinions and discuss neighborhood issues. The sprinkler requirement has been one such topic debated in the forum. This thread even has a poll of residents revealing where residents stand regarding the requirement.

I’m following this story closely because I believe it could have wider implications across the nation for those jurisdictions whom have also set sprinkler requirements for single family homes and more importantly for those cities considering such a requirement.

Huntley Summary

Huntley, Illinois is appearing in a lot of my google searches lately. I thought I’d offer a post that links to most of the articles I found. All the articles I’ve seen are from the Northwest Herald website. You can find them here, here and here. Though I do believe these links will eventually not work (as I found another article but is inaccessible behind archiving fees) they are informative and include comments from local readers/residents.

One of the commentators in the news paper linked to a forum for Huntley residents. A positive barometer for the Huntley Fire Department. However, indications of a comment left by a member of the Huntley Village Board of Trustees are that if this issue had been put to a vote the sprinkler requirement would no longer exist. The Trustee warns her fellow forum participants that the forum is not enough to get their opinions heard. She’s encouraging participation in board meetings or writing a letter if board meeting attendance is not possible.

Just reading through all the articles and the comments a vote should not be rushed and held anytime soon. The village board doesn’t even seem to be all that informed in the entire matter. That’s dangerous because the ultimate decision will be left up to them by majority vote.

Huntley Residential Sprinkler Debate

In “News Clippings” about a week ago I posted a short blip on Huntley, Illinois consideration of rescinding a sprinkler requirement in new homes adopted two years ago. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I gave this story the attention it deserves. The Village Board is considering rescinding the requirement for fire sprinklers in single family dwelling citing, none other than . . . cost.

In this article from the McHenry County Daily Herald, Conor Brown of the McHenry County Association of Realtors is quoted as saying,

‘fire sprinklers are costly, prone to malfunctioning and depress Huntley’s real estate market.'”

We’ve all heard the argument about cost. The focus of my attention on Mr. Conor’s quote is “prone to malfunctioning.” I’m elated to hear that Fire Chief Jim Saletta, “hasn’t received one complaint from residents living in the more than 1,300 Huntley homes with fire sprinklers.” Chief Saletta goes on to say that,

. . . sprinklers actually boost the value of a home, citing a 2005 Harris Interactive poll in which two-thirds of respondents said fire sprinklers increase a home’s value.”

The village Board is getting pressure from somewhere. The article finally states that the, “trustees said they needed more resident input and more information on the cost of the systems to make a decision.” Do you see what I’m getting at? Did the residents bring this to the table or did the McHenry Country Association of Realtors? I’m not an expert on city/county politics but it seems to me if the residents didn’t like the requirement they would’ve represented themselves at the meeting.

I don’t know. It’s strange to me that a requirement has been set and now, after only two years, they’re talking about amending it. Stay tuned!

P.S. Don’t blame the “depressed real estate market” on fire sprinklers.

Warehouse Fire In Bartow; Arson

The warehouse fire in Bartow, Florida that I posted about on Saturday has been ruled arson according to the Ledger Online. Information is unavailable regarding whether the sprinkler system was tampered with however, it is part of the investigation that is ongoing. From the article;

[Kevin] Shireman [Detective; Fire Marshall’s Office] said it was evident where the fire started and its cause.
Investigators also are continuing to examine a fire at the PrecisionAire plant on July 2, which state officials also have ruled arson. Shireman said the only parallels between the two fires, though, is they both occurred in the evening.”