The chances of surviving a reported home fire when working smoke alarms are present are 99.45%. …
Lansing, MI (PRWEB) November 19, 2010
Michigan’s Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (MDELEG) has rejected a proposal to force home buyers to equip their new homes with fire sprinklers. Residential fire sprinklers remain as a voluntary option available to purchasers of new homes. The decision by MDELEG was made as part of its triennial construction code review, and marks the second consecutive code cycle in which the state agency has rejected efforts to impose a mandatory sprinkler requirement on Michigan homeowners.
“The next edition of the Michigan Residential Code, which goes into effect early in 2011, will not contain the controversial mandate for fire sprinklers in one- and two-family homes and townhouses found in the International Residential Code published by the International Code Council,” said Lee Schwartz, executive vice president for government relations of the Michigan Association of Home Builders (MAHB). “We applaud the department’s decision to let homebuyers decide for themselves the best way to protect their family and improve their quality of life. Dollars involuntarily spent on a sprinkler system wouldn’t be available for improved medical care, better insurance, a safer and more fuel-efficient car, education expenses, or retirement accounts.”
Besides Michigan, 26 other states have either amended their laws to ban involuntary fire sprinkler requirements for single-family homes or adopted residential construction codes without the mandate.
In their report to the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, the MDELEG cited questions about the reliability and effectiveness residential fire sprinkler systems as well as the cost of compliance as reasons for their decision. Among the documented evidence presented to the MDELEG was:
- A January 2008 study by Fire Analysis and Research Division of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) concluding “The chances of surviving a reported home fire when working smoke alarms are present are 99.45%. …“
- A January 2009 NFPA report entitled “U.S. Experience With Sprinklers And Other Automatic Fire Extinguishing Equipment” showing from 2003 to 2006 inclusive, in all residential one- and two-family homes in the nation equipped with sprinklers where fires occurred, sprinklers did not operate in 60% of the fires and in another 1% did not operate effectively.
- A May 2010 study from the University of Maryland’s Department of Fire Protection Engineering finding there are fewer casualties that occur in fires too small to activate the smoke detectors/alarms than those fires that are too small to activate the sprinklers. In laboratory fire tests, when the fire sprinkler did not extinguish the fire, the recorded levels of carbon monoxide and nitrate gases were in the fatal effective dose ranges making the conditions within the area untenable. The number one cause of death from fire is asphyxiation from smoke inhalation.
- An analysis of seven years (2000-2006) of Michigan-specific residential fire death statistics revealed 93% of the 131 annual residential fire deaths in Michigan’s 4.5 million residences occurred in homes without working smoke alarms.
“Every fire death is a tragedy. The problem isn’t homes without sprinklers,” said Schwartz. “The problem is homes without working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms are a practical, cost-effective, proven way to reduce home fire fatalities. That’s why the National Fire Prevention Association calls smoke alarms “the residential fire success story of the past quarter century.”
“We took that message to heart in Michigan. With the support of the MAHB not only are all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses required to have interconnected hard-wired smoke alarms with battery backup, by law all existing homes must have a working smoke alarm in every bedroom and on every floor including the basement.”
Included in the broad-based coalition advocating for voluntary residential fire sprinklers were Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, the Michigan Association of Counties, the American Institute of Architects/Michigan, the Michigan Association of Home Builders, regional chambers of commerce, building inspectors, affordable housing organizations and private citizens.
The Michigan Association of Home Builders is a professional trade association comprised of 33 local homebuilder associations around the state and their builder, subcontractor and supplier members. MAHB works to positively promote the building industry and impact legislative, regulatory and legal issues affecting housing affordability. People interested in more information about MAHB should visit http://www.buildingmichigan.org.
Contact: Lee Schwartz
Executive Vice President
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