EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

April 11, 2014

Letter: Sprinkler law an unnecessary burden on homebuyers

To the editor:

The letter to the editor from David A. LaFond of the National Fire Sprinklers Association (“Massachusetts needs a sprinkler law,” April 8) is so flawed it’s hard to know where to begin.

In addition to trying to take shameless advantage of a terrible tragedy to advance the association’s economic self-interest, a tragedy that occurred in a building covered by existing sprinkler laws, the letter fails to point out that anyone who wishes to install a sprinkler system in a one- or two-family home, whether new or existing, is certainly free to do so.

And while some do, most don’t because of cost and because nearly 90 percent of fire fatalities in one- and two-family homes occur because of a lack of working smoke alarms. So what the NFSA wants to do is impose significant additional costs on the already exorbitant cost of building a home in Massachusetts, which routinely exceeds the national average cost to do anything in construction.

Our data, taken from our builders who have installed sprinkler systems in one- and two-family homes in Massachusetts, show an increased average cost of $13,500, or about $4 per square foot, not the $1.35 national average cited by the NFSA. That’s enough to push even more young families, who are already fleeing the state in droves because of high housing costs, to seek residence elsewhere, robbing our economy of the labor necessary to sustain and grow our still tenuous recovery.

Other reasons why not many people opt for sprinklers in one- and two-family homes include the possibility of accidental discharge of sprinkler systems, causing property damage and possible increase in homeowners’ insurance rates. Water supply and water pressure, specifically the lack thereof, especially where there is no municipal system, and the expense and inconvenience of annual inspections are two more reasons why mandating sprinklers in one- and two-family homes makes no sense.

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