An impassioned plea for the acceptance of residential fire sprinklers.

Results of a demonstration of a fire in a living room that includes a fire sprinkler system. Photo courtesy of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

When approximately 3,000 innocent people die from a single terrorist attack, our country reacts. We spend billions of dollars to prevent any future attacks. There is just cause for spending this money. It’s money well-spent.

Of course, that attack is known as 9/11. This year we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of that terrible day. Over the past 10 years, everyone has experienced the extra steps that have been taken to prevent any additional loss of innocent lives.

We have upgraded our security everywhere, especially when flying. To cover the costs of some of these security measures, every time you board an airplane, you pay an additional fee called the 9/11 fee. Nobody has really disputed this fee or the other costs associated with added security against terrorism. Our elected officials have supported this and other measures in order to provide increased security. It is easy to rally around anti-terrorism measures.

Unfortunately, there is another form of terrorism that strikes in our homes, killing approximately 3,000 innocent lives every year. It’s called fire. With 3,000 innocent lives being lost to home fires annually, one would think our elected officials would respond. Isn’t that their job?

The problem associated with the terrorist attack known as fire is that the deaths occur in ones and twos and threes. There aren’t 3,000 lives lost all at once. It is easy for an elected official to ignore a small loss of innocent lives. That is the price we pay to avoid an additional expense in home construction.

When it comes to fighting terrorism in the home, elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans, are becoming “pro-choice.” Whoever thought that some Republican politicians would be pro-choice and against fighting terrorism? But they are. The same is true for some Democrats.

There are still elected officials, Democrats and Republicans, that are “pro-life safety.” But it is harder to be pro-life safety than it is to be pro-choice.

The “pro-choice” moniker is to let new homebuyers decide if they want protection against the terror of fire. If they decide no, they impact the lives of every future owner or visitor to that house. That is almost like asking a passenger of an airplane to decide if they want all of the passengers to pass through security or not. After all, wouldn’t either decision allow one individual to determine if an innocent life is lost to terrorism?

Yet sappy politicians proclaim we can’t impose sprinklers on new homebuyers because it is too expensive. They won’t be able to buy a new home. Imagine if I went to the elected official and said you can’t impose a 9/11 fee on my plane ticket, otherwise I can’t afford to fly. By the way, the 9/11 fee that I have paid over the past 10 years would pay for a residential sprinkler system in my home three times over.

But elected officials are lining up to support the removal of the mandatory sprinkler requirement in the International Residential Code. I often wonder why elected officials are removing just one requirement. Why not remove other requirements, such as all the energy requirements? No one is dying from lack of energy. For that matter, why have a residential code?

 Why not give homeowners the choice of how safe they want to make their homes? After all, who cares if 3,000 people die each year from a house that falls down? Isn’t that their choice?

Protecting The Health Of A Nation

When I first entered the plumbing profession, I learned that plumbers protect the health of the nation. That is a powerful statement. I still believe that statement. Plumbing was the first profession to be regulated by code. Why? Because we protect the health of the nation.

If someone dies in a house fire, have we protected his or her health?

A residential sprinkler system in a home is nothing more than the extension of the plumbing cold water distribution system. It is a glorified plumbing system that is protecting the occupants’ lives. Whether the residential sprinkler system is a multipurpose piping system or a standalone system, it still is an extension of the plumbing. Multipurpose piping systems are installed by the plumbing contractor; standalone systems are installed by plumbing contractors and sprinkler fitters.

So shouldn’t you be out promoting residential sprinkler systems? A residential sprinkler system protects the health of the nation. Residential sprinkler systems also save lives. That is why we are a part of this profession, to protect the innocent lives of this great nation.

Or would your rather listen to a pro-choice politician who says it is OK to sacrifice 3,000 innocent lives each year? Do you realize that since 9/11, more than 25,000 innocent lives have been lost to fire in this country?

Let's Do The Right Thing

We should be screaming from the highest mountain for our politicians to do the right thing. Leave the code alone. Adopt the International Residential Code as is. Residential sprinklers are necessary.

If politicians don’t care about innocent lives, we should. We should be doing the right thing by installing residential sprinkler systems in every new home. There shouldn’t be one house built in the country from this day forward that doesn’t have a residential sprinkler system.

As of Jan. 1, 2011, the International Residential Code mandates the installation of residential sprinklers in all residential buildings. Residential sprinkler systems are also required in the International Building Code. They are also required in NFPA 5000. Hence, every model code and consensus document in the United States mandates sprinklers in all residential buildings.

Isn’t it time we end the terror of fire in the home? Isn’t it time to protect more than 3,000 innocent lives each year? You need to be a part of the solution. You need to be installing residential sprinklers in every home. It is time for you to protect the health of the nation.