Fighting the IRC’s Fire Sprinkler Mandate: Success at the State Level!
Perhaps you recall these photos from Legislative Day when of a record number of HBA members met with our legislators in Jefferson City in February about issues affecting the housing industry? One of those issues was the decision of national code officials to mandate fire sprinklers in every newly constructed residential structure in the new code.
The bottom line is that your advocacy efforts were effective and our legislators listened. After many additional phone calls, letters, emails and meetings, our HBA and others in the state met with fire officials in Jefferson City in April to hammer out an acceptable solution. That meeting ended successfully thanks especially to your President Rusty MacLachlan. As well, Greene County Building Regulations official Dave O’Dell attended the meeting and was incredibly helpful to the conversation by explaining the challenges the mandate presented to local governments and why a solution would be welcome. The consensus — legislative language that prevents local governmental bodies from forcing fire sprinkler installation on single family homes. Instead, builders agree to a mandatory offer of a fire sprinkler system to the home owner. The best part is that this legislation allows the homeowner to make the choice about fire sprinklers for themselves and it ensures that decision is a well-educated one. THAT SOLUTION, IN THE FORM OF HOUSE BILL 103, HAS PASSED IN BOTH HOUSES AWAITS THE GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE TO BECOME LAW.
Perhaps even more important for the long-term, while the statewide legislation sunsets at the end of 2011, fire officials and the housing industry have agreed to work together to encourage local governments to adopt a similar ordinance after that state law sunsets. This helps us maintain local control related to this issue and it offers local governments a legally viable alternative to adoption of the residential fire sprinkler portion of the code. This solution also helps us document the home buyers’ response to this option in a measurable way. That will be useful data to guide future public policy decision-making related to this issue locally. There will be documentation that demonstrates a trend in how home buyers respond to the option of fire sprinklers. No one can tell us what home buyers want. We will have real data that tells policy makers what home buyers want.
The language from the “Truly Agreed & Finally Passed” legislation is below:
67.281. A builder of single family dwellings or residences or multi-unit dwellings of four or fewer units shall offer to any purchaser on or before the time of entering into the purchase contract the option, at the purchaser’s cost, to install or equip fire sprinklers in the dwelling, residence, or unit. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no purchaser of such a single family dwelling, residence, or multi-unit dwelling shall be denied the right to choose or decline to install a fire sprinkler system in such dwelling or residence being purchased by any code, ordinance, rule, regulation, order, or resolution by any county or other political subdivision. Any county or other political subdivision shall provide in any such code, ordinance, rule, regulation, order, or resolution the mandatory option for purchasers to have the right to choose and the requirement that builders offer to purchasers the option to purchase fire sprinklers in connection with the purchase of any single family dwelling, residence, or multi-unit dwelling of four or fewer units. The provisions of this section shall expire on December 31, 2011.
If you have questions or would like more information, contact Matt Morrow or Jennifer McClure at the HBA office, 881.3711 or email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org