Monday, April 25, 2011

Sprinkler Requirement Eliminated

Governor Tom Corbett has signed his first bill into law. The measure, which passed the House and Senate by wide margins, lifts a mandate requiring sprinkler systems in newly-constructed homes in Pennsylvania.

At the Monday afternoon bill signing, Corbett said the old legislation didn’t make sense. “Whether or not new homes are equipped with sprinklers, I believe should be a decision left up to the individual consumers, not to the government,” he said. “While there are arguments on both sides of this issue, as I said before, I believe it’s the decision of the individual consumer.” The governor pointed out smoke detectors are still required in every home, and that “builders still must offer buyers the option to install an automatic fire sprinkler system, provide buyers with information explaining the initial and ongoing cost of such a system, and furnish buyers with information on the possible benefits of information of an automatic sprinkler system.”

Firefighters unions supported the mandate, arguing requiring sprinklers in houses would help keep more blazes under control.

The new law also makes broader changes to Pennsylvania’s construction codes. Going forward, the commonwealth will no longer automatically adopt recommendations put forward by the International Code Council, which authored the sprinkler mandate in 2009. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s 19-member Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council will need a two-thirds vote to approve new building requirements. Some environmental advocates are worried the supermajority threshold will make it more difficult to write energy efficiency mandates and other “green” requirements into codes.

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