MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Minnesota Court of Appeals rendered a decision this past week on a legal challenge brought by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. The decision overturns Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry requirement for enhanced fire & life safety protection with fire sprinklers in homes greater than 4500 square feet. The court said this 4500 square foot provision was an arbitrary figure while the energy code was upheld because it applies across the board.
The National Fire Sprinkler Association is disappointed in this court decision, and is exploring options to support an appeal by the appropriate parties. The International Residential Code (IRC) requires fire sprinklers in all new homes. We would of course have preferred that this requirement for all homes be adopted in its entirety in the state of Minnesota. However, in light of the aggressive opposition from the building industry, we supported the initial DOL compromise in the interest of at least promoting firefighter safety for this specified group of homes, with the hope of eventually expanding this to include all homes once the indisputable public safety benefits of fire sprinklers were more fully recognized.
"All building and construction industries should be working together for improved quality of life with affordable safety requirements," said Larry Thau, NFSA Board Chairman. "We are missing too many opportunities by not working together and we need to change that."
"Our Chair has lead with cooperation and encouraged us with the mantra of converting adversaries to allies, something that was easy for me to embrace because of my past relationships with all reasonable industry association representatives," added NFSA President Shane Ray. "We are ready for a spirit of cooperation that will bring many organizations together for the safety of citizens and firefighters alike."
The NFSA hopes that all stakeholders will come to the table to resolve these issues and to ensure the citizens and firefighters are provided the proper level of fire and life safety through affordable and acceptable national, state, and local codes.
The construction of our homes and the contents of our homes have changed in the past 20 years considerably. Fire is fast, often underestimated by the occupants and the firefighters at the time they face the event. While fire is fast, fire sprinklers are faster. Contrary to popular belief, they do not all go off at once. They are individually activated and will not apply water to everything in the house, only what is closest to the fire.
"All we are asking is that the stakeholders come to the table to work together - saving lives in the process," explained Vickie Pritchett, NFSA Director of Outreach & Government Relations. "It's time that we build partnerships that support life safety and create communities with a high quality of life which includes fire sprinklers."
Of the 6 fire deaths in Minnesota this past week, 5 were children. This is not acceptable, and we should do everything within our power to ensure this will not continue to happen. Fire sprinklers are part of the solution. Fire sprinklers buy time, and time buys life. Flashover occurs in 3 minutes or less in today's fires and that is not enough time to allow an escape.
For more information about fire sprinklers, how they work and access to additional resources and information, visit www.nfsa.org for the latest material, statistics and a dedicated team of fire safety advocates ready to serve all stakeholders in order to fulfill the vision of a safer world.
Contact: Vickie Pritchett
Phone Number: 615-533-0305
SOURCE National Fire Sprinkler Association