Residential Fire Sprinkler Report Released

Today, member John Neff, AIA, testified before the House Local Government Committee about the results of a year-long study of barriers to installing residential fire sprinkler systems. The Committee was interested in why standards and rates vary across the state.

Neff reported that the State Building Code Council created a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of nearly 30 people. The TAG was composed of representives for architecture, water systems, insurance, building inspections and other affected groups. While the TAG looked at many issues, but focused on the cost of supplying water to residential fire suppression systems, liability concerns and water efficiency.

Fire sprinkler systems require larger water meters. Large meters are less efficient at tracking water usage under normal residential conditions; which results in uncharged water usage and funds lost to the purveyor. Also, larger meters can lead to increased water use due to the installation of additional water using systems, such as lawn and garden irrigation.

Liability is a concern for water purveyors who may need to shut off water for routine maintenance or unpaid bills. If there is a fire and water service is interrupted to the sprinkler system at that time, then water purveyors are concerned about being liable for damages.

Finally, regarding the cost of systems and water hook up; the report found that system prices vary because some jurisdictions have a preferred or required system that must be installed and required special inspectors.

The full report is located on the State Building Code Council’s website along with background information. The Committee is expected to draft legislation for consideration later this year.

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