Thursday, April 14, 2011

PA House Votes Against Mandatory Sprinklers

The State House passed a bill that removes a mandate requiring automatic sprinkler systems in new one- or two-family homes.

The mandate, which took effect in January, forces construction companies to install sprinklers, similar to the ones in hotels, for the safety of residents. Once the temperature rises to a certain degree, the sprinklers shower water, allowing people to escape a fire.

Firefighters and other supporters of the sprinklers measure say the safety measure can save lives, but several state legislators argue that the bill could hold back new home sales.

Pennsylvania's construction code is updated automatically every three years when the International Code Conference approves construction standards. With amendments by the Senate, the state Construction Code Advisory Council would now need to opt into any changes before they can take effect.

Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria County) voted to repeal the mandate and says requiring sprinklers in a house is unnecessary. "We're sitting here saying 'here's another hoop you have to jump through, here's another ordinance you have to take care of, here's another responsibility you have to pay for before we give you a permit to build a house.'"

Wozniak says requiring sprinklers in homes can add thousands to building prices, possibly leading to a decrease in new home sales.

The legislation now goes to Governor Tom Corbett; it's unclear whether he will sign it.

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