Pennsylvania Takes The Lead

ON DECEMBER 10, PENNSYLVANIA BECAME THE FIRST STATE to officially require all new housing to be built with fire sprinklers installed. The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) issued the following press release today:

PATTERSON, N.Y. (December 17, 2009) The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), the longest-tenured fire sprinkler advocacy organization in the U.S., announces that Pennsylvania will require all newly constructed townhouses to contain a residential fire sprinkler system starting January 1, 2010 and in all newly constructed one- and two-family homes effective January 1, 2011.

By approving regulation #12-89, Pennsylvania adopts the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), which is the country’s primary building code.  This regulation adopting the IRC and its residential fire sprinkler requirements was approved by the Pennsylvania Independent Review Commission in a vote on December 10, 2009.  This adoption of the IRC updates the Uniform Construction Code in the state.

“This is a tremendous victory for the residents and fire service professionals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and I want to applaud the members of the Independent Review Commission for realizing the importance of this regulation,” said NFSA President John Viniello.  “By adopting the 2009 ICC building code and requiring fire sprinklers in all newly constructed one- and two-family homes as well as townhouses, Pennsylvania is raising the bar in fire safety and demonstrating that the commonwealth cares about its residents and emergency responders by making this important life safety measure a requirement.  Pennsylvania will now serve as a model for other states, which are currently in various stages of adopting the 2009 ICC building codes.”

The inclusion of residential fire sprinkler requirements in the 2009 International Code Council’s (ICC) IRC is a response to the growing fire problem in the U.S.  About 85 percent of all fires occur in the home and many are fueled by new “lightweight” construction and more flammable home contents.  Smoke detectors are no longer enough in residential fire protection, as the time to escape a house fire has dwindled from 17 minutes 20 years ago to three minutes today.  This poses a severe risk to firefighters as they now have less time to do their job and save residents’ lives and property.



Update 04/15/2011

Politicians in the PA House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to go backwards when taking care of their constituents and PA Firefighters by eliminating a statewide mandate that would require sprinkler systems to be installed in new sfd's. Sadly the House passed the bill on a vote of 129-68 to send the bill to Gov. Tom Corbett to sign into law. The state Senate voted 33-17 to also repeal the mandate Tuesday.

The bill repealed a law in the Uniform Construction Code that went into effect on Jan. 1 which said all new one- and two-family homes were required to install sprinkler systems. Although the residential sprinkler mandate is removed, the law would require builders to offer sprinkler systems to buyers at the point of sale, which the Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA) naturally says is a "proactive" step to improve safety standards.

Sprinklers would still be required in new town house construction.


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