Fire Sprinkler Mandate

Mandatory Fire Sprinklers

Home Builders Oppose Mandatory Fire Sprinklers

The home building industry is dedicated to the safety of the communities in which they build. Whenever changes are proposed to the building codes, we make sure that these proposals are necessary and that they are cost effective so that homes stay affordable. Fire sprinklers are expensive to install, can be difficult to maintain and do not represent a cost-effective safety improvement over smoke alarm systems. Indiana Builders Association supports programs that encourage the installation and maintenance of smoke alarm systems in all homes rather than measures to mandate fire sprinkler systems.

Fire Sprinklers Are Not Required in Hoosier Homes

The requirement for mandatory fire sprinklers in all one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses made its debut in the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC). Indiana reviewed this code for adoption in 2010, and Indiana Builders Association successfully advocated to delete the fire sprinkler mandate from the code*.  In 2018, the Indiana General Assembly passed a statutory prohibition on requiring the installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system in all one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses, a measure strongly supported by the Indiana Builders Association.

* Ultimately the State Budget Agency approved only the adoption of more stringent energy efficiency requirements based on Chapter 11 of the 2009 International Residential Code as amended and no other changes due to the significant fiscal impact of the proposed new residential code.

Let’s Protect This Prohibition
  •  Review NAHB’s Fire Sprinkler Action Kit for surveys, handouts, articles, and presentations that you can use when testifying at local code hearings and speaking to elected officials about the need to keep fire sprinklers a voluntary decision by the home buyer.
  • Continue to form alliances with other organizations and individuals who support the installation and maintenance of smoke alarm systems in all homes rather than measures to mandate fire sprinkler systems.
  • Share the true costs of installing sprinkler systems.
    • Costs vary significantly, ranging from $2.66/ sq ft to $6.88/ sq ft, depending on a home’s location, layout, number of stories, and other factors – particularly access to water. Since much of Indiana is rural and many homes are on wells, typical costs are even higher because of the need for additional components such as storage tanks and larger pumps. Homeowners with wells must consider how the sprinklers will operate if the power goes out or if water pressure is a problem.
  • Fight for homeowner choice, based on a 2010 Public Opinion Strategies Survey of 500 likely voters in Indiana:
    • Nine out of ten Hoosiers believe smoke detectors do an adequate job of protecting their family from house fires
    • 57% believe that fire sprinkler systems should be optional for homebuyers that want them
    • Hoosier new homebuyers would prefer a free finished basement and even a free home security system over a free fire sprinkler system.
    • Almost half of those surveyed do not want a fire sprinkler system regardless of cost
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