Home fire sprinkler mandates

by Walter Olson on May 12, 2010

The government is playing more of a role these days in designing your next house. I’ve got some thoughts up at Cato at Liberty on the politics of it all.

{ 18 comments }

1 Aaron Worthing 05.12.10 at 12:55 pm

bastards. i would rather risk fire than all my computers being destroyed.

i love the modern left. libertarian on sex, totalitarian on everything else.

2 rxc 05.12.10 at 1:03 pm

But think about all the children who will be saved…

3 Rliyen 05.12.10 at 1:05 pm

Re: SC official

Why haven’t they perfected the IBHVPC (Internet Back Hand Via PC) delivery system yet? That official is a tool.

4 gitarcarver 05.12.10 at 2:47 pm

Ya’ll are just danged narrow minded to see how much of a win – win – win – win this is for people.

The construction companies can charge more for houses now. Fire protection companies have a new, expanded market. Local governments will now have to hire people to inspect the systems. Landscape and arborists will have to plant and maintain the money tree that these types of regulations will require.

This is a great expansion of the marketplace!

5 Jonathan Bailey 05.12.10 at 2:57 pm

Wonderful. The homeowner gets soaked, whether the sprinkler goes off or not.

6 Tom Murin 05.12.10 at 7:01 pm

First they came for my non-sprinkler equipped home….

Just wait until they start talking about all the people injured by/on stairs (showers, tubs, etc.) – just fill in the blanks and “they” can make out a strong case to outlaw many items.

7 David Schwartz 05.13.10 at 1:43 am

I live in a forested county and we just recently changed our law so that you have to clear out to 100 feet from any inhabited dwelling, up from 40 feet. There’s no real evidence this will make any difference, but guess who pushed hard for this? It’s the insurance industry.

8 Roy in Nipomo 05.13.10 at 5:04 am

David, having had my house survive two wildland fires (100′+ tall eucalyptus trees) over the past 28 yrs, 100 feet of clearance is none too big. Maybe if you can find an endangered species near your home you can make them prevent you from clearing around it.

If nothing else, it shows your home as a nice big target for a water tanker to drop on.

9 L Nettles 05.13.10 at 10:02 am

What percentage of politicians, building inspectors and firemen have sprinklers in their single family homes?

10 Teresa 05.14.10 at 6:57 am

Gee, just because the experts (fire service), who we have charged with maintaining a level of fire protection in the community at an acceptable cost, recommend that, due to changes in residential construction methods and materials and the increasing burden they carry for fire protection, fire prevention, emergency response, haz-mat, homeland security, etc, the most cost effective method going forward is to augment their capabilities with such building code requirements, why should we listen to them? Better we should take the advice of unknown nitwits on the internet with no qualifications.
Yeah, and then we should get rid of all building codes…good idea.

I think the experts and the guys whose a$$ is on the line when you have a fire in your home have a little more credibility and should be listened to!

11 Brian, follower of Deornoth 05.14.10 at 8:33 am

Theresa,

I used to live in a block of flats with a mandatory fire alarm system; this activated about twice a week, rendering the building nearly uninhabitable until we managed to dismantle it.

Would you suggest attaching a sprinkler to this system, thus destroying all the worldly goods of everyone in the building every three or four days, could possibly be considered a good idea?

One doesn’t need to have any great knowledge of building regulations to express some doubt as to whether they are sensible.

12 Dirk D 05.14.10 at 8:58 am

“I think the experts and the guys whose a$$ is on the line when you have a fire in your home have a little more credibility and should be listened to!”

lolwut? Are you really this naive? This has to be some kind of internet schtick.

13 GregS 05.14.10 at 9:56 am

If you have a sprinkler system in a building and it gets triggered, you’re guaranteed thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of water damage – ruined electronics, including your computers, ruined books, ruined drywall and carpets and floors, ruined furniture, etc. So how often will the sprinklers get turned on when there isn’t actually a fire? For example, if you burn the roast in your oven, and the kitchen fills with smoke when you pull it out, can you expect the sprinklers come on?

Also, as I understand it, most home insurance policies don’t cover water or flood damage. So if the sprinkler system comes on when there’s no fire, who pays for all the damages?

14 Joseph 05.14.10 at 10:43 am

Sprinklers are not triggered by smoke or by fire alarms. They are triggered by heat. The heat melts a device on the sprinkler head and then water is allowed to flow.

The trigger point is around 150 degrees.

If there is enough heat to trigger the sprinkler, your computer is a goner anyway, even without the water. And often the one sprinkler is enough to cool the fire before additional sprinklers are triggered.

So whether or not you agree with a law to require home sprinklers, the thought of damaged electronics or accidental triggering by an overcooked roast should not be factors in your decision.

15 Patriot Henry 05.14.10 at 11:12 am

New Hampshire just agreed to this insanity. When I build my granite house in the Granite State I shall not be including sprinklers. I plan on building on land in a town with minimal or no code enforcement. If I should be subjected to the 50 or 100 buck fine for failure to obey the code – I won’t pay it. If the government attempts to jail me for refusing to pay the fine – I won’t leave my house. Since I won’t have the defense of a sprinkler system perhaps the folks trying to help me can try to burn my house down to force me out. Oh, wait, that won’t work because granite doesn’t burn so hot.

16 William Nuesslein 05.15.10 at 11:08 am

NIST did a cost/benefit analysis of spinklers and found them to be economic. That seems strange to me. Anything will have a posite benefit to cost ratio if you use a high enough value of life. An average joe earns about $2 million in a lifetime. ($50K time 20 years.) But that is not a present value nor does it take account of housing and food costs attributable to him. The NIST study uses $7.94 millin.

In fairness to the NIST folks, this is standard, if idiotic, procedure.

There are better ways to spend money. Reducing deficits through taxes comes to my mind.

17 William Nuesslein 05.15.10 at 11:09 am

OOPs. the NIST report can be found with

http://www.fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build07/PDF/b07025.pdf

18 David Schwartz 05.16.10 at 6:24 pm

“The NIST study uses $7.94 millin.” I thought they used a sliding scale based on the person’s expected contribution to society. This way, you can fairly track everyone from an average Joe to a NIST bureaucrat.

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