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N.C. Fire Chiefs Push for Sprinklers in New Homes

Posted November 30, 2007

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— Fire chiefs statewide are pushing for sprinklers to be required in all new homes, saying they could prevent tragedies like a beach house fire last month that killed seven college students.

"The fire at Ocean Isle just really demonstrated the danger that some residential fires present," Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones said.

Seven college students from South Carolina died in an Oct. 28 fire at a beach house on Ocean Isle where they were spending a weekend on fall break.

The North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs plans to lobby for a sprinkler requirement at a Dec. 10 meeting of the state Building Code Council.

"An average of 48 North Carolinians die every year in ... residential fires, and that's the place where people feel safest. That's where our highest loss is," said Jones, who has been interested in the sprinkler issue since a fatal 1996 fire at a University of North Carolina fraternity house.

"I have sprinkler system in my house. It's the best way to protect your family," he said.

The fire chiefs association doesn't plan to push for existing homes to be fitted for sprinkler systems, Jones said, but a position paper the group recently issued recommended that homeowners who can afford the cost install sprinklers.

Thomas VonCannon, vice president of operations for Piedmont Fire Protection Systems LLC, said installing sprinklers in new homes costs about $2 to $3.50 per square foot – about the same as installing carpet.

"Most of your fires are starting in electrical room, water heater or kitchen. One sprinkler head in any of those rooms would pretty well take care of those hazards," VonCannon said.

Officials with the North Carolina Homebuilders Association couldn't be reached for comment, but the National Association of Home Builders has fought against various proposals to mandate sprinkler systems in single-family homes and duplexes.


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  • fireflync Dec 2, 2007

    Yeap Richard folks have forgot what Common SENSE is and even worse is the ability to use it. Haha!!!. Common Sense, would that be like watering the grass over in Wake County,folks concerned about their green green grass and now they only have about roughly 59 days of water mmmmmmmmmm are they going to be able to wash their behinds in that green grass. Yeap good ole common sense. I would be willing to say that most of them paid more for their lawn irrigation systems than they would had spent installing a residentual sprikler system during construction. But then again Residentual Spriklers for most ment lawn sprinklers at their home, duh-huh. I guess when the house burns down and ones 3 computers and tv in the kitchen is lost in the fire then their lawn sprinklers will save that green grass.

  • richard2 Dec 2, 2007

    It should be a matter of choice not regulation. So many well meaning people know whats better for you and they like spending your money too! You can't regulate stupid away, sometimes you need to use some common sense. Remember what that is?

  • fireflync Dec 2, 2007

    Jackadoo6, I bet you was the first to say they are not going to make me wear a seat belt just because somebody had a wreck. Guess what they did. I bet you cried about smoke detectors also Haha you got them now to. You mentioned you travel a lot and stay in hotels 100-200 nights a year. What floor do you stay on in a high rise hotel, ever wondered how high the local FD's Ladder Truck will reach. Ever wondered why that sprinkler head is over your bed when you lay down? You speak of overloaded electrical circits being the home owners fault but you failed to mention the power company that hooks up the power wrong outside or down the street. Remember people are human and humans make mistakes. Not everyone that has a fire is drunk. Let those kids rest in peace. By chance had there been sprinklers in that home or the home in Chapel Hill some years back caused baiscly by the same thing, unless someone got the sprinklers drunk then those kids just may very well have been here today.

  • JohnnyMalaria Dec 2, 2007

    How many of you have multiple fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in your homes?

    Not many, I expect.

    How many of your smoke in your homes?

    Quite a few, I'm sure.

    BTW - all you anti-liberal "nanny state" folk - it's not the government calling for this but the fire departments. Do you object to car inspections, stop-lights, fire-retardant insulation, circuit breakers, tempered glass and the almost endless list of other building requirements?

  • fireflync Dec 2, 2007

    NCFiremarshal, good words and it seems as if some of these posters need to be better educated. In Pinehurst NC for many years now the Pinehurst Firefighters install sprinklers in every Habitat Home built there and because why, they work. Some posters here look that their electronics are more important over life. SO what if your fancy carpet gets wet or your hardwood floors buckle all that can be replaced a lot easier than the entire house can be rebuilt and the insurance companies look at it that way also. I wonder if these posters most likely live in areas where they paid 200,000 - 500,000 for their home but never took the time to see if it had a water system in place or a fire hydrant but cry out on the news when their homes burn that the FD should have put in their hydrants.
    Some posters think that when they burn toast they will get water flow, Ha they learned alot in elementry school during fire prevention week huh. Is smoke hot enough to set off a sprinkler head?

  • docnnc Dec 1, 2007

    So tell us, ncfiremarshall, do you currently have sprinklers in your house? The cost benifit and your commentment is so great, can we assume you made this investment for your family?

  • ncfiremarshal Dec 1, 2007

    Panther......you will not bust my bubble. I don't know who you were dealing with for insurance and I am sorry that you were miss informed by the insurance company. Sounds like a stupid agent to me. The average fire/water damage claim from a sprinklered home(came from insurance company)was around $4500 dollars per incident. A fire sprinkler will operate on less than 12 gallons per minute. The average fire/water damage claim from a fire in an unprotected home was over $40,000.00. By the way.......if one preconnected fire attack line is used, it will produce 145 gallons per minute. You do the math when it comes to the damage! By the way........let the kids from the OI house rest in peace. This is not a fight to change what happened there....this is a fight to make a change for the future. And yes most fires are in older homes but just remember those house were once new, beautiful homes that were showcases in their own neighborhoods!

  • jackadoo Dec 1, 2007

    panther...good post. I have no axe to grind in this discussion except what I think you implied...responsibilty and reality will always rule over more regulations.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 1, 2007

    Just more example of Nanny state government ideas.

  • jackadoo Dec 1, 2007

    PS just saw the story about the Hillsborough fire that killed a man in an 80 yr old frame house today, caused by smoking materials...excellerated by his own oxygen cannisters. I rest my case.