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State Fire Chiefs Make Pitch for Home Sprinklers

Posted December 10, 2007

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— Fire chiefs from across North Carolina appealed to state regulators Monday to require sprinklers in new homes.

"We're trying to protect the citizens of North Carolina," said Assistant Wilmington Fire Chief Frank Blackley, who also serves as president of the state Fire Marshals Association. "It's going to reduce fire loss, potential firefighter injuries and civilian fatalities."

Forty-eight people die in house fires every year in North Carolina, authorities said.

Under the proposal suggested by the North Carolina Fire Chiefs Association, automatic fire sprinklers would be installed in new one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses. The exceptions to the rule would be buildings less than three stories high and buildings less than 3,600 square feet in area.

The cost to add sprinkler systems to new homes is about $2 to $3 per square foot, experts said, which is about the same as adding new carpeting.

The fire chiefs said sprinklers might have prevented the deaths of seven South Carolina college students who were killed in Oct. 28, 2007 house fire at Ocean Isle Beach.

"We sprinkler our lawns, but we don't sprinkler our homes," Assistant Raleigh Fire Chief Tommie Styons said. "At the end of the day, when someone in your family or personal belongings are destroyed in a fire, it puts it in a different light."

Still, North Carolina Building Code Council Chairman Dan Tingen said he has concerns with the proposal.

"There's an attempt here to force those requirements into single-family, detached homes. There's been a resistance not only because of the cost on single-family housing, but also because you're impeding into people's private spaces."

The Building Code Council also was considering a proposal that would give local jurisdictions the ability to enforce even tougher sprinkler rules. Such regulations might be needed in large subdivisions with limited access, authorities said.


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  • richard2 Dec 11, 2007

    If your house can catch on fire and burn down your nighbors house, then maybe, if not, no.

  • sweetsea Dec 10, 2007

    I hope the legislature has more sense than to mandate sprinklers. All we will do is grow government. We could probably retrofit all vehicles with giant rubber front and rear bumpers for a couple of thousand dollars each and save hundreds of lives annually in NC rather than just a few that spriklers would actually save after deducting the fire victims that die by not having detectors or just making bad judgments. Why don't we run that rabbit. Body shop owners would jump on board and DMV as well. Seriously, think about affordable housing and bureaucracy, then toss the sprinkler idea in File 13 where it belongs. With Hackney and Rand though, all things are possible. I'll bet that the Fire Protection Lobbyists have already visited both with checks in hand.

  • zoocrew1 Dec 10, 2007

    thats all its for is saving your life. Your property will be destroyed if the fire is contained probably either way.

  • zoocrew1 Dec 10, 2007

    loudnoises great question. But remember they trying this as to save your life. If you dont have sprinklers and your house catches fire. Then the FD. will put a heck of alot more water in the house to put it out. I seriously doubt they will put a deluge system in the house

  • zoocrew1 Dec 10, 2007

    c perry since your a fire chief i will ask you why dont they use flame retardant material like the foam they use in schools and stuff. This is just an honest question. I went into knightdale high and that stuff was everywhere on the ceiling, walls. why cant they use that in homes

  • loudnoises Dec 10, 2007

    One thing curiously missing: these sprinklers are ceiling mounted. They will be useless in a roof, attic, or chimney fire. That and what type are they proposing? Some just suppress fire, others bring quite a deluge and completely flood the area. And I can't imagine the mold problems in the future if the system is used and saves a structure such as a detached home. Good luck getting insurance to cover 2 claims.

  • zoocrew1 Dec 10, 2007

    even then i dont know if they can do it.

  • zoocrew1 Dec 10, 2007

    and remember.. They cant make private homes that are already built get sprinklers. This will only effect the homes that are being built.

  • atozca Dec 10, 2007

    Well said mikewill.

  • zoocrew1 Dec 10, 2007

    But to be honest with all you i dont see it happening. i really do not. If they do i see it being on houses that like the MCMANSIONS that raleigh is trying to avoid. Not the smaller ones.