This is a letter written by Kurt Dinnes of COHBA written to The Oklahoman about the mandatory fire sprinkler issue.
Concentrate on smoke alarms, not a fire-sprinkler mandate
In reference to Oklahoman article ("City considers requiring sprinklers in new
homes," March 15), the decision on whether to mandate automatic fire sprinklers
in new homes does not pit housing industry organizations against public-safety
advocates. The tone of your article made it appear that we are against life safety.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The heart of the matter is a fire-sprinkler mandate in new homes does not address
the real issue. We submit that new homes are not the problem with fire deaths. The
vast majority of fire deaths occur in older homes that do not have working smoke
alarms or mobile homes. The current codes to which a new home is built have
created a much safer home. One of the requirements already in place is hard-wired
smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarms save lives.
Sure, fire sprinklers will also save lives. However, national statistics from the fire
industry show that hard-wired smoke alarms are 99.44 percent effective in saving
Do we really need another mandate when new homes are not the issue?
Mandating automatic fire sprinklers in new homes will create more maintenance
problems for homeowners in Oklahoma. There have been reports after report of
property damage due to water damage from freezing water pipes in the attic.
The City of Oklahoma City's own commissions, studying the issue, unanimously
concluded to not require this mandate. They understand that today's new home has
many code requirements that make it more fire resistant.
We applaud Councilman Marrs' desire to save lives. We think the best approach is
not mandating fire sprinklers but instead focus attention on how we get working
smoke alarms in all homes.
The decision to install fire suppression systems should rest where it should -- with
the homeowner, not the government. We offer every client the option to install
lightning protection, storm shelters, water purification and fresh air exchangers. It is
their personal decision to include what they want. That is the way it should be.