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Old 01-22-2009, 10:54 AM   #1
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


Read an article today, stating that the ICC refused to deny the vote to require fire sprinkler systems in all new homes starting Jan 2011, and immediately for condo's. The original vote was tainted due to 900 Sprinkler fitters and contractors walking in and voting, only, on this issue and then leaving. The cost of this will put off even more construction starts. I talked to a Sprinkler Ftter in my area and he stated they could not even man this much work. While I am all for safety, I feel this new rule will hurt more people than it helps. Now it will be up to the individual States to approve, amend, or deny the rule.

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Old 01-22-2009, 11:37 PM   #2
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


I dunno. I'm of the opinion that "accidents" happen with far less frequency to people who act responsibly.

Here in Manitoba, on one of our northern reserves, a native gentleman decided to have a short nap while cooking dinner on his stove. Well, as it happened, he forgot to wake himself up, and ended up being rescued from the burning building by his sober neighbors.

I can't help but feel that rescuing this man from the situation he created only serves to weaken the gene pool. If his neighbors thought more carefully about their decision to rescue him, humanity would undoubtedly be slightly better off.

You should go to Europe some times and see the castles there. At that time they were built, there was no such things as "stair railings" to ensure you didn't fall from a great height if you decided it was "safe enough" to ascend them while intoxicated. I can't help but feel those castle steps served to improve the gene pool in Europe by acting as a kind of "responsibility filter", if you'll allow the phrase.

So, in my mind, sprinkler systems are a step in the wrong direction.

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Old 01-23-2009, 12:23 AM   #3
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


The fire protection folks (fire marshalls and fire departments even moreso than pipefitters) had a HUGE contingent in the final voting session for the 2008 ICC code cycle. As an inspector and an ICC member, I received an email from an organization basically offering a paid trip to the voting to cast my vote for sprinklers. I'd never do that because it is dirty politics, but that stuff goes on.

The HBA in Oregon (?) has already filed a formal complaint and is requesting a review of the process that set this in motion.

Personally, I inspect very large homes. Many of them are much too large for a single fire hydrant to be adequate to supply the demands of fighting a structure fire. For homes like that, I'm all for sprinklers. But for 1200 square foot little homes I don't see the need. You can't argue that it does increase safety though.

Residential sprinklers won't likely be metal pipe like commercial jobs, except in areas where the unions build homes. In multifamily and residential, plastic sprinkler pipe is much more common and economical. My hunch is that residential plumbers will happily take on the task of adding sprinklers to their scope of work. Research shows that sprinklers add 4-6% to the cost of an average home in my area.

The same voting contingent from the fire departments got two other things passed that will make peoples' heads spin...

1) ANY BUILDING PERMIT PULLED FOR ANYTHING AT ALL will automatically trigger the requirement that a carbon monoxide detector be wired into the house. So, if you build a deck, the code requires that the inspector make you put a CO detector in your house. I think this sucks. All it does is make people work harder to avoid permits and inspections, and for good reason in this case. If I adopt the '08, I'll be amending this section.

2) Since I-joist floor systems definately fail much faster than dimensional lumber in a fire, a home's occupants and fire crews are at a much greater danger of falling through a floor or having a premature collapse. The '08 code will require the underside of all I-joist floor systems get sheetrocked to provide some fire resistance. I think it will require 1/2" but am not sure...Perhaps 5/8". Look at the bright side, it'll make finishing the basement a heck of a lot easier for homeowners. The challenge will be that the floor will have to be rocked prior to installation of ductwork. I don't know what to think of this because it does make the home a heck of a lot safer, but sure does complicate the construction process and add costs.

Politics, folks. Dirty politics.
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Old 01-23-2009, 09:32 AM   #4
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


I have seen the orange sprinkler plastic piping. What makes me wonder about residential systems is how the water will be supplied. Where I live, in Arkansas, many/most homes are fed domestic water by 3/4" lines. This could require larger supply piping or a separate tap exclusivly for fire safety. Licencing for Sprinkler Fitters is very different from Plumbers also. Just getting permits for fire lines is a long and complicated process. Can't help but think the insurance companies have a large stake in this also.
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Old 01-23-2009, 10:40 AM   #5
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


Ayuh,...

It's just More Nanny government designed to protect the Stupid from themselves.....
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:00 AM   #6
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Ayuh...(picking up my sarcasm?)

The so-called nanny government prevents COUNTLESS deaths, injuries, and property damage by requiring homes and structures meet minimum standards. Fact is, these requirements will do that as well, like them or not. It has nothing to do with protecting the stupid from themselves...Electrical arcs, gas leaks, structure fires, and other disasters are often not caused by stupid people. Furthermore, government has nothing to do with the ICC and the codes-making process...The code is created by a variety of industry professionals and is only adopted by governments.
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:01 AM   #7
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


Quote:
Originally Posted by majakdragon View Post
I have seen the orange sprinkler plastic piping. What makes me wonder about residential systems is how the water will be supplied. Where I live, in Arkansas, many/most homes are fed domestic water by 3/4" lines. This could require larger supply piping or a separate tap exclusivly for fire safety. Licencing for Sprinkler Fitters is very different from Plumbers also. Just getting permits for fire lines is a long and complicated process. Can't help but think the insurance companies have a large stake in this also.
All good points, and I assure you that you're correct on all counts. I can't say what the licensing requirements will be for residential sprinkler installs...Hopefully the code will lay that out, although I doubt it will.
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:45 AM   #8
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


I was wondering how long it would take until this topic showed it's face. What I am wondering is if they will relax some of the firewall requirements in a sprinklered residence. In reality, there is a lowered need for rated wall/door assemblies in a sprinklered buildings. Will the same logic that applies to sprinklered commercial buildings be applied to sprinklered residential structures? Logically, if the I'joists are sprinkler protected, why do they also need to be protected with gypsum board?

Something to think about. If a structure is so large that it cannot be protected by a single fire hydant supplied from a municipal water line, then how will that water line also provide sufficient water for adequate sprinkler protection?

There are some other hidden ramifications. If I wish to add on to my home, the municipality may require that I add sprinklers. If I am in a rural area and have a well, the addition may require drilling a new one. As I understand NFPA 13D, the residential sprinkler standard, I will need a system that can supply pressure to two activated heads for 7-10 minutes. That could mean adding a fire pressure pump and a 300 gallon storage tank. How much did I budget for this addition? Also there is a provision in the commercial sprinkler code for visual inspection of all piping. If that applies to the residential code, that would mean that risers and latterals could not be permanently concealed in walls or ceilings. I'll admit that I have not had the opportunity to read the entire 13D standard, but so far I think it will be horrendously expensive, especially in areas where no municipal water supply exists..

The Federal U.S. Fire Administration is and has been a strong advocate for these code changes, as well as the insurance industry. And of course the NFPA is an advocate. Sad truth is that none of these fine folks care what the consumer cost is. If this flies, it will be interesting to see a comparison of fire damage costs vs. water damage costs due to accidental sprinkler activations.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:10 PM   #9
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


Quote:
It has nothing to do with protecting the stupid from themselves...Electrical arcs, gas leaks, structure fires, and other disasters are often not caused by stupid people.
Ayuh,... That statement is Highly Debatable,....

As Surely as you can make That statement,..
I can say that the Majority of the time, it Is Stupid people doing Stupid things....

Quote:
The code is created by a variety of industry professionals and is only adopted by governments.
The bottom line is it's Still the Same Nanny Government taking Rights away from citizens...

In this case it's driven by Liberal Ambulance chasing Lawyers,+ the Industry Professionals trying to Fatten their own bottm lines....

Kinda like the fact that a common Stepladder now weighs Twice it's normal weight,..
Because it's covered with Safety stickers telling the Stupid, not to be Soo Stupid.....
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:07 PM   #10
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


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Kinda like the fact that a common Stepladder now weighs Twice it's normal weight,..
Because it's covered with Safety stickers telling the Stupid, not to be Soo Stupid.....
For what it's worth, my corded Makita hammer drill's user's manual warns against using the tool underwater.

At some point there has to be a lower limit to how stupid the consumer must be assumed to be for the manufacturer to protect himself from lawsuits.

I stand by my contention that NOT warning people of blindingly obvious dangers would be helpful to the path of human evolution.
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Old 01-23-2009, 03:20 PM   #11
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


I can see in some instances much larger insurance claims due to accidentally setting off the sprinkler system. Need a new PC? Set the sprinkler off!! But I did read that some (all?) sprinkler heads only go off when that head hits the required temp.
True? False?
Will these have a shut off valve?
I can just see homeowners shutting it off so they won't accidentally ruin all of the electronics in the house

I can see more people going without permits as a result of this
I actually looked into sprinklers at my last house & the Fire Dept told me to forget it. I just can't see sprinklers in residential homes. People don't even like having to put smokes & CO's in!! I installed all hard wired smokes & CO when I started to redo this house

I had to put hard wired smokes in my last house before I sold it
The guys from the Fire Dept came out to inspect it & asked why I had installed hard-wired since it was not required. I mentioned the Lt that had been out told me I had to & they just sort of exchanged looks - like - Oh - him.
3 bedrooms 900 sq ft, 4 smokes within 10' of each other
The new owners promptly took them ALL out when the wood stove set them all off as they added wood
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:32 PM   #12
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


Let me see if I can help to clarify some of the confusion going on about this.

Scuba Dave,

Contrary to Hollywood, with the exception of a few specialized instances, only the sprinkler that sees the heat will go off. In a residential system, which generally has about 1 sprinkler head per room (with the exception of some large rooms), that would only mean that a head would go off. And I don't think that you could set off a head every time you wanted a new piece of furniture or electronics. Either you would have to break the bulb without a fire (which would be easily seen) or you would have to start a fie (which is arson).

As far as the code change goes, it is my understanding that the IRC will now include an appendix to give the builder all the design requirements including material and spacing of heads. As part of the change, the code will be more favorable to combined plumbing/spirnkler systems. I would guess that this is what the majority of houses will have installed. So, you won't be able to just shut off the sprinkler system (unless you want no water in your house). Also there some hinting by NFPA that 13D would be written during the upcoming revision to reflect the IRC and to make sure that they agree with eachother.
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:33 PM   #13
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


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Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
But I did read that some (all?) sprinkler heads only go off when that head hits the required temp.
True? False?
Sprinkler heads have a fusible vial that bursts when heated, letting water out. For a head to go off, that individual head must be exposed to heat. For instance, a kitchen head won't saturate the kitchen if the bedroom catches on fire. Hollywood has made many people believe otherwise!
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:34 PM   #14
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Dooz beat me to it!
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:41 PM   #15
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Fire Sprinkler systems in new homes


Nestor and Bondo, it bears mentioning that the code does not just protect people from being stupid (like using a drill underwater). It is in place for accessibility of structures by the elderly, blind, or otherwise impaired.

I'd feel a lot less strongly about codes if people lived in one home forever and could never sell or rent it to others. I definately subscribe to anything that lets the gene pool perform some self-cleaning! But doing wiring or other improvements at a sub-par level and selling the home or other structure to someone else immediately or years down the road puts a lot of other people at risk due to the installer's stupidity.

Anything short of enforcement of the minimum standards set by the code is pure negligence on the part of the builder, subcontractor, owner/DIYer, and inspector. Arguments to the contrary are irresponsible.

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