What To Do While Away (a residential problem)

Peters Township, Pennsylvania requires residential sprinkler systems in certain types residences called “Patio Homes.” Some of the people who live in these types of homes and communities winter in Florida and do not maintain adequate heat in the home to prevent the system from freezing.  The town council has been considering ways to help residents prevent their fire sprinkler systems from freezing up.  One of which is to deactivate and drain the system.

In an effort to assist the property owners, council presented a draft ordinance that would permit property owners to disconnect the sprinklers if the residents were to be out of town a month or more.

I tend to agree that this is a viable option since residential systems are designed more for the purpose of slowing a fire down to allow the residents more time to evacuate.  In other words, fire sprinkler systems in homes are designed more for the protection of life than property.  If no one is around shut the system down and spare property owners the expense and hassle of converting to antifreeze.  [The Almanac]

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Galesburg, Illinois Fire Department Hosts Sprinkler Demonstrations

The Galesburg, Illinois Fire Department is hosting events (link to article) this weekend that will demonstrate the effectiveness of  fire sprinklers.  If you have never seen a demonstration like this, I highly recommend it.  If you are in the Galesburg, Illinois area go by and see this fascinating demonstration.  The demonstration times that are left this weekend are at the Galesburg “Great Balloon Race” today from five to eight, and Menards Sunday at noon.

There are also videos found here, here and here that will display the difference between a room protected with fire sprinklers versus a room that isn’t.

Making Strides in Residential Sprinklers

Lots of good information from the Fire Sprinkler Initiative this month in regard to residential fire sprinklers.

California has been requiring residential sprinklers in one and two family dwellings since 2011.  At a recent event, fire sprinkler representatives demonstrated how the industry is striving for ways to make the systems more aesthetically pleasing if not invisible.

… the look and reliability of sprinkler heads will make them a viable option for more and more homeowners across the U.S., said Grady Smith, a sprinkler rep at the PCBC conference. “The latest versions of sprinklers are more aesthetically pleasing and can be installed in more places inside your home. It comes in any color so it’s almost invisible on the wall.”

Interesting article on the cost of installation for home fire sprinklers.

If you would like to join a coalition to help promote home fires sprinklers in your state click here to help spread the word through your social media and networking sites.

Fire Prevention Advocates Disappointed in N.C.

An article in the Charlotte Observer from Tuesday explains the “North Carolina State Building Code Council (NCSBCC) declined to consider a request that sprinkler systems be required in large or multi-story family homes.”

As an outsider, two things came to me glaringly while reading the article:

Number 1 is the notion by the NCSBCC Chairman that it’s an unworthy notion to consider a sprinkler requirement in homes that exceed predetermined square footages or heights. In the commercial realm square footage, frontage, and height allowances are based (not solely) but in a big part, on whether a building is sprinklered or not. I agree that all homes should be sprinklered. Having said that it’s not an absurd notion to say that the bigger (or taller) the house the harder it would be to evacuate in case of a fire.

Number 2 is a statement made at the very end of the article. I am going to quote the article word for word because the statement is so crazy I’m can’t believe that N.C. Home Builders would make such a claim;

In a statement, the North Carolina Home Builders Association praised the council’s decision, saying it, ‘supports the development of an effective public fire-safety education program.’ The association argued current building requirements adequately provide for fire safety and that the costs of sprinkler systems exceed the potential property losses they might prevent.

The author of the article quotes the home builders as saying it [the NC Home Builders], “supports the development of an effective public fire-safety education program.” Then paraphrased, if you will, the builders association’s stance that current building codes are sufficient for fire safety AND (here’s the punchline), “the costs of the sprinkler systems exceed the potential property losses they might prevent.”

In my “I’m BAaaak” post a few days ago I begged the question whether or not it would be possible to spend even a Million dollars (the loss estimate of the house fire I referred to) on a sprinkler system over the life of a home. I say no way (under the current dollar value mind you). But, physical property will be the least concern in a catastrophic house fire.

One Requires; Two Consider

A couple of links I thought I’d pass along.

WJZ-TV reports [story here] the Talbot County Council approved a bill requiring sprinklers in new, and significantly renovated homes. The sprinkler requirement in renovations will be phased.

Under the bill, sprinklers will be required as of March 1 in new one-and two-family homes. They’ll be required in existing homes undergoing construction or renovation of more than 65 percent of the home until July 2009. After that date it will be required for renovations of more than half of a home.”

The other two links are to articles where jurisdictions are considering a residential fire sprinkler requirement.

The first is from CBS-47 in Fresno, CA [story here].

County Supervisor Henry Perea is proposing a new code to require sprinklers in all new construction in Fresno County including homes. Local firefighter officials claim the sprinklers save lives and would make a huge difference in rural areas where a fire response can take up to 20 minutes.

It’s hard to forget the tears of a grieving mother. In February Ana and Ruvi Escalante died in a house fire in the Fresno County area of Calwa. The tragedy affected the whole community.”

And finally, Hickory Hills in Southern Chicago is considering a sprinkler requirement in new and renovated homes. The story comes from Daily Southtown. Hickory Hills is doing their homework for sure;

Aldermen are discussing when it would be fair to make existing home owners, doing renovation or remodeling work, to install the devices.

‘If someone is gutting their house, tearing out all the dry wall, then I would have no problem having them install a sprinkling system,’ building commissioner Gordon Betcher said. ‘But not if a guy is just putting an extension on his house.’

‘We need to find a clear line of demarcation between a complete gutting and just an addition,’ Mayor Mike Howley said.

Ald. John Moirano (1st) said the city must establish a consistent policy and not leave the matter to the discretion of the building commissioner or future building commissioners.

‘We need a fair playing field,” Betcher said. ‘If new homes have to install sprinklers, then people totally rebuilding old houses have to do it, too.’

Some aldermen favor enforcing sprinkler installation if 50 percent or more square footage of a residence is being rebuilt. Others are considering measuring in dollars, making sprinklers mandatory if 25 percent or more in the reproduction cost of the house is spent in rebuilding. Both measures are being considered.”