Sprinkler-system requirement survives challenge
Should sprinkler systems be installed in every new single-family house? Fire safety advocates think so. Home builders aren't nearly as enthusiastic, noting the cost.
It's a national argument that last week came to Baltimore, during hearings held by the International Code Council. The ICC -- the organization that writes the building-safety rules adopted by states, counties and cities across the country -- entertained a proposal by the National Association of Home Builders that sprinklers be a "mandatory option" rather than a mandatory non-option. (A mandatory option might sound like an impossibility, but it would mean a feature that builders have to offer as an add-on, leaving the choice to buyers.)
Under the ICC's current code, sprinkler systems will be required in newly constructed single-family homes by 2011. The home builders are trying to get that changed, but sprinkler proponents outvoted sprinkler opponents. (Though it's not a done deal until the ICC's conference in May, it was a key vote.)
Sprinklers are already mandatory in all new townhouses in Maryland. Would you want sprinkler systems installed in all new single-family houses? What do you think of them, if you've had up-close and personal experience with them?
Given a choice, would you pay extra to have them in your home?