On Monday, June 5th, Sam Bowles of Newport Partners spoke at the 2017 NFPA Conference and Expo in Boston, MA. Recently, Newport had completed a study on behalf of NFPA regarding the perceptions of different stakeholder groups in state’s that have mandatory requirements for home fire sprinkler systems. At the conference, Mr. Bowles discussed some of the findings of that study and how these results can be leveraged for other state’s that might be looking to adopt requirements for sprinkler systems in new construction.
The debate on whether or not to adopt code requirements mandating sprinklers has been ongoing across the country for a long time now. In 2006, sprinklers were included in the International Residential Code (IRC) but were added as an optional appendix and in 2008 they became a standard requirement. However, since being included in the IRC, only two states, Maryland and California, have adopted statewide sprinkler requirements. The debate still continues across the nation, with fire protection professionals heavily advocating for sprinkler requirements while being met with pushback from some other stakeholder groups.
What made this study interesting is that nothing like it has been done before. The majority of previous studies related to home fire sprinkler systems looked at the cost impact, but until we had states that had experience without mandatory requirements, we could not look at how some of the more common perceptions that hindered widespread adoption actually played out. Maryland and California both adopted requirements in 2011, so at the time the study was conducted, they had nearly 5 years of experience in living and working with residential sprinkler systems. (Many areas of these states actually had sprinkler requirements long before they became statewide mandates.)
Below is a summary of some of the key findings from the study. You can read the full report here.