Showing posts with label sprinkler systems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sprinkler systems. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Worcester County Opts Out On Sprinkler Systems

SNOW HILL -- Worcester County has opted out of a Maryland state law that would have required all new one- and two-family dwellings in unincorporated areas to contain residential sprinkler systems.

In a 5-2 vote, Commissioners Virgil Shockley, James Purnell, Bud Church, Merrill Lockfaw Jr. and Jim Bunting Jr. voted to opt out, while Louise Gulyas and Judy Boggs voted to retain the sprinkler requirement.

Several of the commissioners who voted to opt out said phone calls and e-mails from constituents expressing concern about the price of the sprinkler systems had convinced them opting out was the right choice.

"The majority of my constituents are in favor of the county opting out, and the main reason is economics," Lockfaw said.

He later said the Pocomoke City Fire Department is not in favor of mandating residential fire sprinklers either.

"There is mandate after mandate after mandate," Purnell said. "There are too many mandates."

At a Sept. 21 public hearing, commissioners listened to arguments for adopting the law from Worcester County Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon and the National Fallen Firefighter's Foundation. Real estate agents, developers and some residents spoke against letting the rule go into effect.

After attempts to get a consensus, commissioners were unable to reach a vote on opting out or amending the mandate. The legislation would have taken effect Jan. 1 if commissioners had not voted.

Boggs, who voted against the measure, said it is the responsibility of the government to protect citizens.

"I have been thinking back to the public hearing," Boggs said. "The welfare of residents and life safety would be better served by mandating."

Church said he had brought the item back up because several commissioners asked him to, noting Lockfaw and Bunting were not commissioners during the previous vote. Those two should have the opportunity to vote on the legislation, Church said, because they will represent their constituents when it takes effect.

Even though commissioners have opted the unincorporated areas of Worcester County out of the mandate, new homes with four or more stories, as well as new modular homes, will still be required to install the sprinklers.

In addition to Worcester County, Pocomoke City has opted out of requiring residents to install residential fire sprinklers; Ocean City has let the legislation stand; Berlin has opted out for one-family dwellings; and Snow Hill is scheduled to hold a vote Dec. 28.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Commissioners To Discuss Sprinkler Law

SNOW HILL -- The Worcester Board of County Commissioners is bringing back for discussion a state law requiring all new one-and two-family dwellings built after Jan. 1 to contain residential fire sprinklers.

Although the meeting is not a public hearing, President Bud Church said it will allow new commissioners a chance to express their views and get all of the facts.

"A number of people requested it be brought back up, including the new commissioners," Church said. "We'll see if we can get a vote, whether it's up or down, so we're not in limbo anymore."

The commissioners originally held a public hearing Sept. 21, during which homeowners, firefighters, real estate agents and Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon expressed strong views on the issue. A motion to exempt all county homebuilding from the rule failed to win a majority of votes, and a proposal that well-water properties be allowed to forgo the sprinklers also failed. As a result, the rule is scheduled to take effect next year if commissioners take no further action.

Newly elected commissioners Jim Bunting Jr. and Merrill Lockfaw Jr. have expressed opposition to the legislation, saying if it were to be brought up, they would vote against it.

Several of the municipalities in Worcester County have also addressed the issue. So far, Pocomoke City has opted out; Berlin amended the law so new single-family homes will be free from the mandate; and Ocean City and Snow Hill have yet to take a vote.**

** If my memory is correct Ocean City has already voted in favor for the new state law requiring sprinklers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pocomoke Mayor and Council Vote On Sprinkler Installations

POCOMOKE CITY -- The mayor and council voted to opt out of a state regulation requiring the installation of sprinkler systems in new single-family homes in Maryland after Jan. 1.

Instead, the town will offer owners of a new home a rebate on property taxes if they decide to install a sprinkler system. The amount of the rebate will be decided later.

Two-family homes are not affected by the town's decision since they already come under the code that calls for structures with more than one family to have the systems.

Worcester County Commissioners have so far decided to let the state regulations stand, meaning they would go into effect in the new year. But the two newly elected commissioners who were sworn in Tuesday -- Merrill Lockfaw Jr. and Jim Bunting Jr. -- want to revisit the issue.

In Ocean City, the Town Council is on track to clear the way for the state regulations to take effect in the resort.

Other business

Chris B. Derbyshire, representing George, Miles and Buhr, also gave the mayor and council an update this week on the upgrade to the town's sewer plant.

He said work on the upgrade is 82 percent complete. The original completion date was Dec. 29, but an additional 48 days is needed because of a change order in the original contract. Because of the increase in time, the architects requested an additional $32,234 to monitor the construction. The request was approved.

City Manager Russell W. Blake said no local funds will be needed to cover this cost. Derbyshire also said bids should be opened in about two weeks on the UV disinfection project. This addition, costing about $225,000, will disinfect sewage leaving the plant and reduce the cost of operation because it will eliminate the need for chemicals. Again, no local funds will be needed to cover the cost of this project.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sprinklers To Be Discussed By County Commissioners In December

(Nov. 26, 2010) Unless the county commissioners vote to opt out of the state law mandating sprinklers in new single-family and two-family houses, the law will go into effect in the unincorporated areas of Worcester County, including Ocean Pines, on Jan. 1.

The commissioners have just one meeting before Dec. 15, the supposed final day to make a decision before the state law mandating sprinklers goes into effect Jan. 1. On Monday, however, Bud Church, president of the Worcester County Commissioners, said the issue would not be on the Dec. 7 agenda.

He has asked for it to be on the Dec. 21 agenda. He was told that it would not present a problem with the state if the commissioners vote to opt out of the requirement during that meeting.

The commissioners may modify the requirement mandating sprinklers, but only because of a special condition. That condition could not be the cost of sprinkler systems, which was part of the sprinkler issue discussion in September.

That discussion lasted nearly threeand a-half hours as proponents and opponents stated their cases.

At the time, Church and Commissioners James Purnell and Bobby Cowger opposed mandating sprinklers, while Commissioners Linda Busick and Louise Gulyas favored them, though Gulyas said she would only require them for houses with public water service. Commissioner Virgil Shockley was undecided.

With Busick replaced by Madison “Jim” Bunting and Cowger replaced by Merrill Lockfaw in the elections, the sentiments regarding sprinklers could change.

Friday, November 26, 2010

After Public Hearing Berlin Postpones Sprinkler Decision

BERLIN – Whether Berlin will decide to exempt itself from installing mandatory sprinklers in new one- and two-family dwellings is still up in the air after Monday’s public hearing.
After more than an hour of presentations on both sides of the debate by fire marshals, realtors and private citizens, the Mayor and Council delayed making a final decision on residential fire sprinklers until its Dec. 13 meeting.

“There are a lot of myths and falsities about sprinklers,” said Worcester County Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon. “Sprinklers save lives.”
McMahon supported his argument that the council should not opt out of the mandatory statewide installation of sprinklers in new homes with statistics, case studies and a nine-minute video showcasing the effectiveness of sprinklers.

“The sprinklers activate in 90-seconds,” McMahon said. “It’s like having your volunteer fire company arrive on scene immediately. … You’ll need about 300 gallons of water [for a sprinkler to put out a fire], compared to thousands if the fire department needs to show up.”
McMahon compared the 90-second sprinkler response time to the nationwide firefighter average response time, which was between 16 and 20 minutes before water would actually start flowing on scene. He admitted that Berlin’s centrally located fire department had a slightly better average, but that it was still nowhere near the 90-second mark.

Supporting his colleague, Maryland State Fire Marshal Jeff Barnard also addressed the council in support of mandatory sprinkler installation. He also stressed that while smoke-alarms may get many people out of the house, those who are incapacitated, either through handicap, age or a situation such as intoxication, might not be able to escape the fire even if alarmed. With a sprinkler system, however, the incapacitated would be much better protected.

As for the occasional malfunction with sprinklers and ensuing water damage, Barnard did not believe it should sway the council.

“Everything dries out, but nothing un-burns,” he said.
Berlin Fire Chief Derrick Simpson lent his support to the fire marshals, going on record for the mandatory installation of sprinklers.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, local realtors made their own presentation, this time against making the systems mandatory. Their main argument was that the cost would be too high, especially with the terrible housing market, and that whether a home has a sprinkler system should be a decision left to the owner, who could choose whether to deal with the additional expense.

“I strongly support the safety of the community, but not at the cost of making homes unaffordable,” Coastal Association of Realtors President Pat Terrill said.

Terrill ventured that smoke-alarms and the central location of the Berlin Fire Department were more than enough practical protection and that attaching more cost to a home in what has been some of the slowest real estate sales months in decades could be crippling.
John Kotoski, president of the Eastern Shore Building Association, agreed and pointed out that Berlin would not be unique by opting out of the ordinance.

“Twenty-seven states have opted out of the mandatory sprinkler ordinance,” he said. “Only two, Maryland and California, have opted in. Twelve states are pending and two haven’t brought it up yet.”

Kotoski reinforced the high cost of sprinklers should be a choice left to the owner. Additionally, he cited that there would be extra costs associated with a sprinkler system that the fire marshals did not think of, such as the expense of simply working the systems into the design of buildings and complications that could be generated during construction.
Kotoski listed some statistics of his own, saying that there was a 99.45 percent chance of surviving a home fire if hardwired smoke-alarms were installed.

“The problem is not homes without sprinklers,” he stated. “The problem is homes without working smoke-detectors.”
Berlin resident Joe Sexauer addressed the council in favor of mandatory installation.

“The state allows exemption from the ordinance for peculiar circumstances,” he said. “I don’t believe just having a central fire department is peculiar enough to justify an exemption. … the overall scheme of things this is a no-brainer.”

When it came time for the council to finally vote, most appeared to still be on the fence. Councilwoman Paula Lynch asked those in attendance to raise their hands if they were Berlin residents and approximately half of the audience put hands in the air. She then asked those residents if they would install the system optionally to again raise their hands; fewer went up this time, but there was still a scattering.
Lynch said she “wrestled with the mandate.” Councilwoman Lisa Hall agreed, but did admit that she was impressed by the sprinkler systems
“I would put one in my house,” she stated.
In the end, the council tabled the vote hoping to find more information on the possibility of insurance reductions and other pertinent data, and also to allow the council time to digest the sheer amount of information presented.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More On The Sprinkler System Issue

This article should shed a little more light on the issue with fire sprinkler systems being installed in new family dwellings. No one will argue the fact that perhaps sprinklers do save lives. The issue here is the fact that there is one more law from the government telling us how to live our lives in something that WE are paying for, not to mention the added expense initially, then the costs, possibly, to have water hooked to it. What does it cost to have city water run to this? What would the monthly cost be?

Let's face it. People don't want to burn to death in the middle of the night in their homes. They don't want to see their belongings destroyed by fire either. More importantly, what they don't want is for the government of any size to come into their homes and tell them there is one more thing they must do........because it's law. That's just wrong!

Maryland has adopted the National Building Code, effective Jan. 1, as the standard for all new residential construction in the state. One of its provisions is a mandate that fire sprinkler systems be installed in all new one- and two-family dwellings. Municipalities may exempt themselves from the requirement --but only if they do so by mid-December. Berlin is considering exempting itself; Salisbury has adopted the requirement.

While it's easy to see how homeowners might be skeptical, the available literature and video demonstrations on the Internet are convincing. In staged demonstrations, a fire can destroyed a room in less than 2 minutes; in an identical room with a sprinkler installed, the fire is extinguished in about 15 seconds.

There is no convincing argument for any builder or homeowner to choose not to install sprinklers.

Sprinklers cost between $1 and $1.50 per square foot of living space; therefore, for a modest 1,200-square-foot starter house, the additional cost would be about $1,200-$1,800 --equivalent to modest upgrades in flooring, kitchen cabinets or other fixtures in a new home. The additional one-time cost is offset to some degree by a 1 to 2 percent annual discount on homeowner's insurance.

Plumbing, which is required for home sprinkler systems, is a self-contained system that does not experience the wear and tear of ordinary plumbing; it is installed inside the walls where it is not exposed to freezing temperatures. Because sprinkler heads are activated independently, only the amount of water necessary to contain the fire until help arrives is dispatched, limiting water damage. And because the sprinkler heads are heat-activated, there is little chance for accidental triggering of the devices.

Smoke alarms increase the chances of surviving a house fire by nearly 50 percent; sprinklers increase it to about 97 percent.

In the end, the argument comes down to whether government should tell people what to do. When government steps in to protect people instead of giving them choices, it should because of the potential for that decision to harm others -- as this one could in apartments, hotels or duplexes.

Multi-family structures should be required to have sprinkler systems; however, builders or owners of single-family dwellings should retain the right to make the decision.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Malfunctioning Sprinkler System Closes Store

Many people have a difference of opinion when it comes to the state mandated sprinkler law that is scheduled to go into effect in January of 2011. Take a look at the article below. This happened in October of this year to a business. This business in Fairfield, CT. suffered quite a loss simply because of a malfunction. Just something to think about.

The Home Depot may be closed for at least part of this weekend after a sprinkler head malfunctioned in the Kings Highway Cutoff store Friday night and flooded it with water, firefighters said.

"You can swim in here," Fire Chief Richard Felner said, adding that the mega-store would have been better off having a fire.

Felner said the sprinkler head near the front of the store, by the plumbing aisle, was spraying water for around 40 minutes and that merchandise in four aisles was soaked. The water wasn't confined to those aisles, though. Felner said it had spread throughout the store. "It just keeps spreading out. There's nothing to hold it in," he said.

Felner said a cleaning crew was due to come in Friday night to begin mop up operations and he said the store almost certainly would be closed Saturday.

Employees outside the store Friday night turned customers away but said the store should be open Saturday because cleanup crews would be working all night. The store was open when the sprinkler head went off, and the parking lot was wet with water.

Firefighters aren't sure why the sprinkler head malfunctioned. Felner said the head, which is about 40 feet in the air, wasn't near a source of heat, and it may have just been old or rusted. "There's nothing up there that set it off. It could have been a faulty head," he said.

Felner said the head shot water over a 15-foot radius and that the water spread all over the store. He estimated it was about an inch deep across the store by the time firefighters could shut off the head. He estimated damage from the incident at $50,000.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Opinion On The Sprinkler Requirement

Remember the 'residential fire sprinkler requirements' that and the comments circulating around Pocomoke City AND Worcester County? Please read this. It seems Stewart Dobson is trying to "get a handle on their logic."

Some people might wonder why I believe the new residential fire sprinkler requirement that’s sweeping the country is a load of bovine-generated biomass.

It’s simple. Advocates argue that some 3,500 people die each year in house fires and that this will help lower that number. But if the main concern of governments is to save our lives — at our own expense — think about this:

More than 51,000 people die of colon cancer every year, according to the National Cancer Institute, 14 times the number of people who will lose their lives in house fires, yet neither the federal, state or local government has seen fit to require us to install an early warning detection system where the sun don’t shine.

I’m trying to get a handle on their logic.

Seeing how my *** apparently belongs to the government, one would think it would want to do more to protect it from far greater dangers instead of demanding only that I water it down in case of fire.

Personally, if all I had was smoke detectors in my house, which I do, and if the alarm sounded, I would get my *** out of there, thus saving it a fraction of the cost.

On the other hand, while we have the Southern Building Code, the BOCA building code and the International Code Council, et al, we do not have a formally adopted Southern *** Code, BOCA *** Code or an International *** Council, which means that for now, anyway, our ***es are unregulated, as anyone who has been to Wal-Mart will attest.

Another factor might be that the zoning code makes no provision for a single-family ***, a high-rise *** and a multi-unit ***, although there is a good argument that Congress would fall in the latter category.

But I’m serious about this. If this is all about saving lives, what’s the difference between requiring people to pay for a sprinkler system they may not want but could save their lives and mandating colonoscopies that they may not want and could save their lives?

Governments will no doubt respond that your *** is none of their business, unless, of course, you are preparing to fly commercially, in which case, they are going to check your *** out before allowing you to check in.

Considering all this, I have a suspicion that this particular aspect of the building code, has less to do with saving our ***es than we are led to believe.

After all, if protecting our ***es is what this is about, a wiser and more cost-effective expenditure would be the $3,000 average cost of a colonoscopy than the average $4,000 cost of a fire sprinkler system, albeit the former costs more on a per square foot basis.

Then again, government’s preference for mandated sprinkler systems over mandated colonoscopies could be more fundamental.

I’m sure that even with the job shortage these days, finding a qualified *** inspector would be difficult unless, of course, you’re flying commercially.

by:Steve Dobson
The Public Eye