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  1. #1
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Default Residential Sprinklers in *new* construction repealed by Pa. Senate 4/12/2011

    http://www.pasenate.com/?p=2952

    Well, the majority of the collectively stupid in Harrisburg have shown that they side with the Home Builder's Associations and have chosen to place profit before lives.

    I now strongly encourage all Pennsylvania Firefighters to think twice before entering a private dwelling constructed of lightweight/unprotected wood framing, unless of course if there is confirmed or reported entrapment of an occupant.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


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    same issue here in Maine, as they adopted a uniform building code but excepted the residential sprinkler requirements in 1 and 2 family dwellings. I wish the insurance industry could take a more active role by pushing for significant premium reductions where sprinklers are present in one and two family dwellings. In the end it comes down to dollars.

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    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    I wish the insurance industry could take a more active role by pushing for significant premium reductions where sprinklers are present in one and two family dwellings.
    Many insurance companies do. The cost of a typical NFPA 13D sprinkler system in a new residence will pay for itself in insurance savings over the life of a typical 30 year mortgage.

    There is no excuse for removing the residential sprinkler requirements when adopting model fire codes.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Here in Michigan smoke detectors are now required every level plus in every bedroom. Hopefully this is enough to get everyone out so we can show up and make the decision, based on conditions, on whether we want to put us- back in.
    Believe I'm no 'safety sally', I spent a career making entry on homes built in the '30s - '60s and we didn't have to worry about falling through the floor in the first ten minutes or the roof coming in on our heads within 20 minutes. We have a real problem on our hands in dealing with the lightweight construction, our best tools (besides the TIC) is having the guts to tell our people to NOT make entry if our experience tells us that the fire has taken enough of a hold of lightweight framing members.

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    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    http://www.pasenate.com/?p=2952

    Well, the majority of the collectively stupid in Harrisburg have shown that they side with the Home Builder's Associations and have chosen to place profit before lives.

    I now strongly encourage all Pennsylvania Firefighters to think twice before entering a private dwelling constructed of lightweight/unprotected wood framing, unless of course if there is confirmed or reported entrapment of an occupant.
    So you choosing to put politics before lives is any better?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Where in his comments does he put politics before lives?

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    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    So you choosing to put politics before lives is any better?
    The Home Builders Associations in Pennsylvania have decided to place profits before lives. They have successfully argued to include allowable lightweight/unprotected construction in the ICC Residential Codes (as adopted by Pa. and many other state and local governments.) They have also successfully fought mandates for residential sprinklers which were effective in the IRC on Jan. 1, 2011.

    The Fire Service and Code Officials have fought valiantly to mandate that they either sprinkler lightweight/unprotected construction, or protect lightweight construction. They have fought and won both of these battles. And now they are beginning to launch attacks on the State of Maryland's sprinkler mandates that have been in place for years.

    I am choosing to place my own life and encouraging other firefighters to place their own lives before politics by merely refusing to enter any dwellings constructed using these methods. Unless, of course there is reported entrapment or the potential for entrapment of occupants.

    Just ask the guys from the Enterprise Fire Company, of Hatboro (Montgomery County, Pa.) that fell through a floor constructed of lightweight/unprotected "I-Joists" back in December. I bet they think twice from now on.

    You see it your way, I see it mine. I will say this though- the schit has to stop somewhere. And maybe if we take a stand and start refusing to offensively fight fires in these death traps, maybe the policticians will notice.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    It truly is rediculous that stuff like this happens. It will be the same thing in NY when the legislation decides on it. What the contractors and Home Owners Association don't realize is that by putting in residential sprinklers they can have some exemptions made. Like hydrants can be placed farther apart and the water mains wont have to be as big and in certain areas they would only have to use single slabs of sheetrock instead of having to have two. I am by far no expert in this subject, but I am in school and taking a class on sprinklers and we just went over residential sprinklers. I agree with FWDbuff when he says take caution in these new construction buildings as they aren't safe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by engineeremtp View Post
    Here in Michigan smoke detectors are now required every level plus in every bedroom. Hopefully this is enough to get everyone out so we can show up and make the decision, based on conditions, on whether we want to put us- back in.
    I'd say it's not enough. Studies are showing more kids don't wake to smoke detectors and fires grow much hotter much faster today than ever. Today's poorly constructed new house will too soon become tomorrows poorly constructed and aging old home. if we think old house pose problems for us now, wait 50 years and ask you grand kids how safe it'll have become.

    Dep.Marshal: you can't prove the "pay's for itself over time" by our numbers. In Maine the cost of installation is far greater than $1.61 and the 10-15% savings on the minor amount we pay for fire insurance to start with, makes for a hard sell. I calculated my savings would be less than $40/yr at 15% of the fire portion of my premium and that was being generous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post

    I am choosing to place my own life and encouraging other firefighters to place their own lives before politics by merely refusing to enter any dwellings constructed using these methods. Unless, of course there is reported entrapment or the potential for entrapment of occupants.
    While I completely understand your disgust, I can't help but think that to do this fails to address "the building is not occupied until we prove it isn't". We still have to do our jobs and this now must include understanding the increased risk on the scale when the fire is in unprotected lightweight construction. Had they passed the proper legislation we'd still face thousands of unprotected homes with lightweight construction but not refuse to enter? We need to focus on better providing proof that this construction is far more damaging by showing the story of every fire where it's encountered. While it may take longer to get there, we'll be far more respected for it. In the meantime, be smart and ensure all members know what to look for and what to avoid.

    Luckily, while our state failed to provide sprinklers they did determine that they would not allow lightweight construction to be exposed. All basements (and any level) must be finished or sprinklered if the floor system is using any lightweight materials. My understanding is that attics used for living space must be similarly protected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    http://www.pasenate.com/?p=2952

    Well, the majority of the collectively stupid in Harrisburg have shown that they side with the Home Builder's Associations and have chosen to place profit before lives....
    Agreed it's shortsighted. But to be accurate is "place price before lives". The profit margin on not selling a house at all (perhaps due to an unaffordable price) is zero. Builders exist to build and sell houses. The increase in retail price is going to be much more significant factor than the tiny additional profit a builder makes of sprinkler install. Loosing the ability to get a $5000 higher mortgage is likely way more of a factor than making an additional $250 profit.

    I think we largely have to convience the public that spending $x for sprinklers makes more sense than buying mom that stupid granite countertop. Since moms are the leading safety sally's it should be doable. Hard educational project no doubt.

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    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa View Post
    The increase in retail price is going to be much more significant factor than the tiny additional profit a builder makes of sprinkler install
    I don't know how much it costs to install an NFPA 13D system in Iowa, but here in Southeastern Pa. the average cost is $1.60 per square foot.

    Given the average cost of a newly constructed 3000 Sq Ft. home around here of $400K (and that's a conservative guess) that $4830 bucks is peanuts.

    Two experienced installers, using approved CPVC piping and components, can have an entire 13D system installed in two working days- thats 16 hours.

    Peanuts.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    I don't know how much it costs to install an NFPA 13D system in Iowa, but here in Southeastern Pa. the average cost is $1.60 per square foot.

    Given the average cost of a newly constructed 3000 Sq Ft. home around here of $400K (and that's a conservative guess) that $4830 bucks is peanuts.

    Two experienced installers, using approved CPVC piping and components, can have an entire 13D system installed in two working days- thats 16 hours.

    Peanuts.
    Given an actual requirement and an ever increasing number of certified installers, the lower price would seem to quickly overcome most arguments. At a $1.60/ft. I think we could enact this in my state, but reality is that the number of new home starts is generally far smaller thus fewer installers, less competition, and higher typical cost. Add to this the very rural nature of most of our state (read no public water) and the added cost (just over $1000) for a tank system pushes the per foot cost further up. Not to mention typical new homes are about half of what you're seeing in S.E. PA. Not that any of this makes the safety aspect negligible, just means we'll have to work harder to prove this is the best course of action.

    The part that makes me ill is the number of firefighters who cannot speak intelligently about the subject or are opponents. Our own Fire Marshal's office has at guys who don't believe in residential sprinklers!When an fire investigator tells me that none of the fatal fires he's been to would have had different outcomes with sprinklers because the occupants died of smoke inhalation, I have to wonder if they understand how fire evolves!

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    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Post Well.............

    Why is Maryland the only State where we get things like this trashed immediately. Anyone think it might be because we know what we want, we agree on what we want, and we fight like hell to get what we want. And Succeed...........

    The builders lobby recently tried get an "Opt-Out" provision in the Law regarding Manufactured Homes. Senate and House Bills were both voted down in Committee and never saw the light of Day in the House and Senate Chambers........ The House and Senate bills were identical, and basically would have allowed any local jurisdiction in the State to Opt-out of adopting that portion of the Code that required Sprinklers in Manufactured Homes. Both Hearings on these bills were Standing Room only and were jammed with Uniformed Firefighters. Among those who testified against relaxing any sprinkler requirements was Cathy Hedrick of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Cathy's son Kenny died when the single family home that he was searching flashed over. Her testimony was, as you would expect, quite moving, but firmly focused on our nation's Fire Problem, and what sprinklers can do to save lives.... All the major Fire Service organizations in the State were very well represented, and each had at least one member who testified in opposition to the bill..... As the Legislative Committee Chairman of the Maryland Fire Chief's Association, I delivered the testimony for that group... We had a great day, and things went well for us, but you can't let your guard down for even a minute on stuff like this.......
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    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    And, if you want to get into "conspiracy theory" type of stuff - a house that doesn't burn doesn't get rebuilt - less work for the construction industry...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  16. #16
    Forum Member HuntPA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post

    There is no excuse for removing the residential sprinkler requirements when adopting model fire codes.
    I don't have any excuses only logical arguments.

    I own 11 acres. I am 9 miles from the nearest municipal water supply. My land is on the top of a hill. In order for me to meet the fire flow requirements, I would need to build a water tower next to my house. It gets cold here in NW PA. In the winter I would have to heat my water tower so that I have adequate water supply for the sprinkler. If having sprinklers completely eliminated my fire insurance bill, it would not pay for this.

    Enacating the residential sprinkler requirement would have effectively ended, not slowed, new construction in rural Pennsylvania for all but the wealthiest.

    You find many of these requirements that don't fit to the rural majority of land area but are passed by the majority of population in urban / suburban areas.

    Case in point is the new stormwater mitigation plans. If I build a 20 x 40 garage with a 10 x 20 concrete pad out front, I will have to have an engineer perform complex calculations to show that the water hitting the garage roof and pad will completely stay within my land and will not flow onto my neighbor's property. It makes sense where they already have an overabundance of impermiable surfaces, but in the majority of the commonwealth's land area, it is another layer of government intrusion into our lives.

    And I do understand the safety and protection afforded by residential sprinklers. I think that they are a great thing and that we should push for them in any way psooible. But creating such a mandate is effectively killing any rural growth in PA. This is a lose-lose situation. If we push through so we are safe, you are killing any new developement. If we do not, we are going to see more and more LODD from these hazardous structures.

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    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Nope.............

    I respectfully Disagree....... We require Sprinklers in Prince George's County, and have for the past 20 Years...... Availability of Public Water is not really relevant to the need (or not) for Sprinklers, in fact, the farther you are from a Fire Station, the more critical sprinklers become. Our systems for use in areas with well water are designed with a Pressure tank in the Basement that has the Volume and pressure automatically maintained by a small pump that is supplied by, but not part of, the Home's domestic Water System. The Pressure Tanks are usually 500 Gallons, and so far have operated properly when needed. Remember, Water Supply for Domestic Sprinklers is only a fraction of the Required Fire Flow for Manual Firefighting with Hose Lines. Also, we heard all the sad stories about all the builders and Developers going broke and new home construction ending in the County. Guess what?? Didn't happen. We continue to see a lot of new residential construction, even with the poor economy right now. The entire Sprinkler Opposition thing has nothing whatsoever to do with Safety, Engineering, Cost, Appearance, Insurance, Availability of Water, or anything else, EXCEPT........ You got it - GREED....... Builders in one area that I'm aware of fought against Fire Sprinklers and fought to REQUIRE Automatic Underground Lawn Sprinklers at the same time. Looks like they care more about your Grass than your A**...... Which, BTW, they do. It's ALL about profit.

    And a Side Note to Tree:
    We studied the Construction Industry at length as part of our strategy to beat the Home Builders at every turn, and we did find that the ones who Fought Sprinklers the most did not operate in the "Replacement" market at all...... In other words, Blocking Sprinklers to enable profits from rebuilding a burnt home wasn't even on their Radar....... Still isn't......
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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  18. #18
    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntPA View Post
    In order for me to meet the fire flow requirements, I would need to build a water tower next to my house.
    Wrong. Obviously, you aren't familiar with the requirements of NFPA 13D.

    And I do understand the safety and protection afforded by residential sprinklers.
    But you haven't bothered to educate yourself about them. That's just sad.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    While I completely understand your disgust, I can't help but think that to do this fails to address "the building is not occupied until we prove it isn't". We still have to do our jobs and this now must include understanding the increased risk on the scale when the fire is in unprotected lightweight construction.
    Right, but what he is saying is pretty much on the mark regarding "understanding the increased risk" of newly constructed lightweight/unprotected dwellings.

    Had they passed the proper legislation we'd still face thousands of unprotected homes with lightweight construction but not refuse to enter?
    Yeah, it's possible. I know there are places that are already changing their tactical approach to these types of fires because of the increased risk for quick collapse under significant fire conditions.

    Note: The "proper legislation" was already passed, it has now been rescinded.

    We need to focus on better providing proof that this construction is far more damaging by showing the story of every fire where it's encountered. While it may take longer to get there, we'll be far more respected for it.
    The issue isn't so much that "this construction is far more damaging". The issue is in part that this type of construction is far more susceptible to quick collapse with little to no warning, thus making it more dangerous to firefighters. The use of sprinklers in this style of construction will typically reduce that danger by a significant amount.

    Hopefully this link will work. It is from the "UL Structural Stability Program" and part of the IAFF's on-line "Fireground Survival" program. It has some very good information regarding the dangerous effects of fire on unprotected, lightweight floor and roof construction.

    http://content.learnshare.com/course...16/player.html

    As for the benefit of sprinklers.........

    I'm not sure what better proof we can provide beyond the demonstrations that I've seen in which identical rooms, one with a sprinkler/one without, are set on fire and the obvious advantage the sprinkler provided in terms of both limiting fire damage and occupant/firefighter safety by preventing the fire from growing out of control and consuming the entire room. The only other thing I can think of is the fact that (as far as I know) there are no recorded US fire fatalities in buildings with properly functioning sprinkler systems.

  20. #20
    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    The only other thing I can think of is the fact that (as far as I know) there are no recorded US fire fatalities in buildings with properly functioning sprinkler systems.
    In fairness, that's not entirely accurate. There is no record of more than two people dying in a fire in a structure with properly operating sprinklers with the exception of an explosion of flash fire. Typically, these people were intimate with the origin of the fire and/or unable to self rescue even with the extra time provided by sprinkler activation.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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