Senate amendment stalls repeal of sprinkler law

Posted: April 14, 2011

Legislation that would repeal a recent requirement that sprinkler systems be installed in newly built homes is now awaiting Gov. Corbett's signature.

Corbett, however, did not immediately give a thumbs-up to the bill, which received final approval Wednesday from the House by a vote of 129-68.

"The governor supports the repeal of the sprinkler requirement," said Kevin Harley, his spokesman. "We are reviewing the Senate amendments."

Critics, already upset with the proposed sprinkler-mandate repeal, focused on an amendment approved by the state Senate that would change how the state adopts new safety requirements for home-building.

Since 1999, Pennsylvania's construction code has been automatically updated to include modifications by the International Code Council, which develops standards for building safety.

The Senate amendment would require the state Uniform Construction Code Advisory Council within the Department of Labor and Industry to choose to adopt code changes.

The sprinkler requirement, which took effect Jan. 1, came about because the advisory council took no action.

Advocates for the sprinkler requirement say that it would save the lives not only of homeowners, but also of firefighters.

The House bill was introduced in January by Rep. Garth Everett (R., Lycoming), who said that the cost of new sprinkler systems ranged from $5,000 to $20,000 in his district.

"When you live out here where I am, in rural Pennsylvania, when you're on a well [water] system, it becomes much more expensive," Everett said in a phone interview.

"I introduced this legislation on behalf of my rural constituents, not the Pennsylvania Builders Association or the Realtors or anyone else," Everett said.

He said that adding a sprinkler system should be optional for a new home buyer, and not a government mandate.

He noted that the repeal would only apply to single-family homes and duplexes, not to apartments, townhouses, or dormitories.


Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Angela Couloumbis contributed to this article.

 

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