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The Debate About Residential Fire Sprinklers

Excerpt from the August issue of International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) Public Management magazine:

“As the decision whether to require residential fire sprinklers reaches state and local governments, passionate arguments are being made by proponents and opponents alike. Encompassed in this emotional debate are data and research—some more reliable than others—along with myths and unsupported assumptions.

The challenge for managers and elected officials is determining the acceptable level of fire risk and making the best decision for their communities.

Several states have prevented local governments from adopting new sprinkler protection standards. Most recently Pennsylvania’s governor signed a bill postponing sprinkler provisions required in the most recent version of the model residential code. For local governments, installation of sprinklers offers a number of quality-of-life benefits, as demonstrated in recent studies.

Research in the United Kingdom resulted in a comprehensive adjustment to deployment strategy with a focus on prevention. The results were significant improvements in safety and corresponding decreases in losses from fire. Fires in single-family residences account for the majority of injuries and fatalities to the public and emergency responders.

If the magnitude of these fires could be reduced substantially, would it impact your response capabilities to other incidents in the future? If sprinklers improve the safety of residents as well as responders, could your community risk reduction plans and resource needs change if the number and magnitude of fires were drastically reduced or even eliminated?”

Read the entire article from ICMA’s Public Management magazine.

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