Sprinklers To Be Required In New Construction
Published: June 23rd, 2008
By: Melissa deCordova

NORWICH – Despite opposition from the Southern Tier Building Officials Association, a proposed building code regulation could soon require all newly-constructed homes to have automatic sprinkler systems.

The regulation is proceeding through the International Code Council (ICC) on the federal level and, if passed, would automatically become a part of New York’s Uniform Fire and Building Code. The state’s legislature has no authority over uniform code mandates.

Chenango County Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Bates told members of the Safety and Rules Committee last week that the regional organization is alone in its stand against the bill. The New York Building Officials Association, the New York State Fire Marshalls and insurance-related organizations all favor sprinklers, he said.

While Bates said the STBOA was “of course, in favor of saving lives,” he said the organization opposes the regulation because it gives residents no alternatives and is an example of government “coming into your home and telling you what to do.”

The water sprinklers would connect to a home’s existing plumbing system and are designed, in the event of a fire, to allow enough time for occupants to leave, but not to save the home. The regulation requires specific light ventilation and egress windows in each bedroom.

“Usually codes give individuals a break if they satisfy similar requirements,” Bates said. “They are telling you to do this no matter what (other safety measures) you are doing.”

Town of Norwich Supervisor David C. Law said he recently learned that the system would require homeowners to have adequate water supplies, sufficient water pressure and is not without maintenance costs.

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