I am here to put the spotlight on the new (2010) California Residential Building Code for the people who are unaware of it and do not see the issues associated with it. I write to you not only as a firefighter, but an employee of a water company as well as a concerned taxpaying California resident.
In 2010, the California Building Standards Commission (BSC) voted to adopt the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), which states that all one- and two-family homes and townhouses built after January 1, 2011, must be equipped with fire sprinkler systems. Also remodeling your home can fall under these regulations. This is absurd.
For one, not all of us California residents reside in parts of the state with a great warm climate all year long. In fact, most of Northern California cities and towns will hit freezing temperatures 8 months of the year. Commercial buildings in these areas already have problems with their sprinkler systems due to freezing, pipes breaking, and then a wonderful flood. Next you get repair costs for not only the sprinkler system but the water damage of the building, and the awesome possibility of mold there after. Don’t think this happens? Click right here
, over here
… get the picture. Most of these weren’t even in cold temperatures due to frozen pipes!
Yes, I am stuck on the frozen pipes. Myself, and three other employees of the water company spent our Christmas vacation this year responding to houses with frozen pipes that didn’t have water. This is with the pipes three feet or more in the ground (it was an unusual winter having extreme cold weather with no snow, which is usually there as an insulator for water boxes and pipes from the cold climate). Now, picture all the houses that would have frozen broken pipes INSIDE! Think of all the houses with the homeowners out of town and the snowbirds who are only around in the summer months.
Lets look at the cost of a sprinkler system. The California Building Industry Association, said the potential increase in costs to home builders is expected to be about $5,000 to $6,000 per home. Did they think of us in the mountains who would now have to heat their homes in the winter while we are gone to prevent a frozen pipe? No. Not to mention the water bill as you are unaware of a leak and your meter is just spinning off the chart. Making us drain our systems when we would leave (next they will make that illegal). Defeating the entire purpose of the system. Structure fires don’t just happen in the summer months.
Of course some of my critics might say, “but there is air over water sprinkler systems” for our area. Yes, I know and I manage four commercial buildings in the mountains, with air over water sprinkler systems. Air over water is a sprinkler system where you pressurize your water lines with air, as a sprinkler detects heat, the air leaks, when the air leaks to a certain point it than releases the pressurized water through the system. Guess what!? Pressurized air leaks too! Condensation is created in the lines, slowly rusts out the system and fittings. Causing leaks, flooding, etc. You get this now. As well, it is a more expensive system.
I’m not here to say that fire prevention isn’t important, and sprinkler systems wont save lives. Just that it is not optimal for everyone, so don’t push it on everyone. To pass a law/regulation, without seeing all the consequences and money it will take is ignorant. It will raise the prices on homes, contractors and plumbers in an industry that is already been hit hard. They wont stop here. Already they are trying to put legislation in addition too; that if your home is in a forested area, you would have to put in roof sprinklers (at least it wouldn’t be forced on every home). I think the fire industry has been doing a great job in fire prevention, but they have pushed it too far. As they give themselves a pat on the back. Time to invest in water damage repair companies.