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Letter: Sprinkler-system requirements would safeguard lives

While members of the Pennsylvania Builders Association and
National Association of Home Builders claim that smoke detectors are adequate
(see “Sprinkler law doesn’t jibe with builders,” Oct. 24 issue), that’s simply
not true.

While members of the Pennsylvania Builders Association and
National Association of Home Builders claim that smoke detectors are adequate
(see “Sprinkler law doesn’t jibe with builders,” Oct. 24 issue), that’s simply
not true. Battery-powered smoke detectors depend on annual battery replacement
for maximum effectiveness. Any fire officer will relate instances in which
residents were badly or fatally burned, and fire investigators found smoke
detectors with missing or dead batteries or detectors that had been removed and
placed in a kitchen drawer. Further, smoke detectors have been shown to be
unable to awaken some children, the elderly and those impaired by medication or
alcohol.

With respect to the claim that mandatory sprinklers will
harm the housing industry owing to the current financial climate, I wonder why
those same builders were opposing sprinklers during the boom days of the
housing industry. The fact is that safety does not sell, and builders are
opposed to anything that reduces their bottom line.

With installed costs ranging from 50 cents a square foot to
$1.50 a square foot, an average home can receive sprinkler protection for 75
cents a day, when projected over a 10-year period, not considering property
insurance reductions.

Jeff Musser’s claim that sprinklers will cause excessive
water damage is specious. Two sprinkler heads flowing 12 gallons per minute
will discharge 240 gallons of water in 10 minutes, which is longer than it
takes most fire companies to respond. Contrast that with the hoseline employed
by firefighters when attacking a room and contents fire, discharging 200
gallons per minute. 

-Paul D. Hamilton,
firefighter 11, member of the National Fire Protection Association and of the
International Association of Electrical Inspectors

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