Yesterday the Mass BBRS voted on the Stretch Sprinkler Proposal which would have required contractors install sprinklers in 1 and 2 family new construction homes.
First there was a motion to allow the proposal to move forward and the motion was defeated. Next a motion was was made to deny the proposal from moving forward and this motion passed. The vote to deny moving forward was 6 in favor, 2 against and 2 abstaining.
According to Harry Smith, a member of the BBRS panel, he said the current battle was won however the war is going to continue for a long time. There is a consensus that the State Fire Marshall will be filing legislation to require sprinklers in 1 and 2 family dwellings. At the hearing there was talk of lowering the threshold when sprinklers would be required from the current 14,400 square foot requirement. In addition there was talk about requiring a limited amount of sprinkler heads above furnaces/boilers and along paths of egress.
The Fire Marshall, Fire union and sprinkler companies are not going to give up on the movement to require sprinklers in all residential properties. They will do whatever they can including filing legislation to go around the BBRS if necessary. Last fall they participated in a campaign that accused building officials of supporting building inferior housing because building inpsectors were against sprinklers. The sprinkler unions and they supporters also accused builders of building inferior housing.
At the December BBRS meeting where I testified on behalf of EMNARI and remodelers. Building officials and builders spoke fervently that they were appalled that the unions would accuse the professional inspector community and builders of supporting the construction of inferior homes. This message was advertised on radio and in Boston newspapers.
It is imperative that the residential industry reach out to legislators this year and and ask for support on making sure that our financially decimated industry does not get another government mandate shoved down our throats.
Another sad truth is homeowners are totally ignorant of the movements underway by unions that will lead to astronomical costs in new home construction. Homeowners who are aware of the costs of sprinklers do not want to pay for them.
Another interesting fact is there are 31 states in this country who have already said no legislativly to Fire Marshalls, sprinkler companies and fire unions regarding sprinklers. Why does Massachusetts seem to go down the road anyways when so many others have chose to not burden homeowners and contractors with another cost that will do little good?
All residential contractors and remodelers should pay attention to the Fire Marshall and sprinkler companies movement to require sprinklers in new homes. Why because if they are approved for new homes it will only be a short time before they are required for pre-existing properties. If you need an example just look at what happens when you do work on a remodeling project and you sneeze at a bedroom; hard wire smoke detectors for the whole house. Don't wait for regulations to show up on your doorstep.
Get involved and speak to your legislators this year and ask them to say no to the fire unions, sprinkler companies and State Fire Marshall regarding sprinklers. Tell them that smoke detectors already do a great job of saving lives and sprinklers are just another unfunded mandate designed to help unions and sprinkler companies make money on the backs of financially strapped taxpayers and contractors.