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Home Fire Sprinklers: A Status Update

Four years have passed since the January 1, 2011, effective date established by the International Residential Code (IRC) for newly constructed homes to have fire sprinkler systems, and while adoption of this requirement at the state and local level has trailed initial expectations, measurable progress has been and continues to be made. Two states, California and Maryland, plus the District of Columbia and many other jurisdictions have adopted the IRC requirement, and the state of Minnesota recently enacted a statewide adoption applicable to all new homes that are 4,500 square feet or larger in area (including the basement). Progress with townhouses has been even better, with 10 state codes now requiring newly constructed townhouses to have fire sprinklers.

Based on a review of U.S. Census Bureau data, it is reasonable to estimate that the number of newly built homes being equipped with fire sprinklers is now in the 10 percent range, and contrary to dire predictions made by sprinkler opponents, no evidence of an adverse effect on home affordability or the new home construction market has been identified in any state or jurisdiction where sprinkler systems are now required.

In fact, some builders in jurisdictions where fire sprinklers are required even highlight sprinklers as their top safety/security feature in marketing materials, recognizing the fact that sprinklers are a major incentive for purchasing a new home versus an existing unsprinklered home. One builder stated “New homes with fire sprinklers make existing homes obsolete.”

Read Jeff Shapiro’s entire article from Fire Protection Engineering

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