February 25, 2010 – Fire safety advocates led a successful effort in Kansas this month to defeat what they described as a dangerous piece of legislation. House Bill 2515 would have prohibited local jurisdictions from adopting sprinkler requirements in homes. The bill did not receive the needed votes to pass.
“This bill would have put citizens and firefighters’ lives at risk by denying communities the ability to provide the lifesaving protection that home fire sprinklers afford,” said Andy Moffitt, president of the Kansas Firefighters Association. “Sprinklers save lives and we should not be putting roadblocks in front of public safety.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nearly 3,000 people a year die in fires and more than 80 percent of people that die in fires are killed in home fires. The risk of dying in a home fire is cut by about 80 percent with sprinklers.
All model safety codes now include a provision for home fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. “This bill was a step in the wrong direction,” said Chief Bob McLemore, president of the Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs. “Instead of denying jurisdictions the ability to better protect their citizens, we need to be working to provide a higher level of fire protection.”
With the defeat of the legislation, local jurisdictions will retain the ability to make their own choice regarding sprinkler provisions.
The fire service in Kansas should be commended for their leadership in promoting home fire sprinklers,” said James M. Shannon, NFPA president. “They know first hand the devastating consequences of fire and know those losses can be significantly reduced with home fire sprinklers.”
Proponents of the bill argued that sprinklers cost too much. A recent research report concluded that home fire sprinklers cost an average of $1.61 per sprinklered square foot. Kansas figures are shown to be at or below that national average.
For more information on home fire sprinklers, visit www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.