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Politics and Government

NY fire chiefs call for requiring sprinklers in residential code

Currently in New York state, sprinklers are required in apartment buildings and certain large homes. But the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs think more newly constructed homes should be built with sprinklers. For now, they are pushing for new townhouses to be included.

One minute, 38 seconds was the amount of time it took for a sprinkler to go off in a room during a controlled burn demonstration at the Baldwinsville Fire Department. In a second room without a sprinkler, flames engulfed everything within 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

Jerry DeLuca, executive director of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, said sprinklers can mean a big difference in the outcome of a fire.

“People need time to escape, the sprinkler is meant to save lives and allow people time to get out of their home,” DeLuca said.

DeLuca said pressure from the real estate and home building industry is why there is no current mandate in the state’s residential code. He said it would cost less than $3,000 to install sprinklers in the average upstate residential home. He adds that newer homes are burning faster than older homes. 

“It’s in part because of the furniture, the carpeting, it's all made out of oil-based products," DeLuca said. "When you add the construction methods where you have materials that are not solid wood anymore, they’re glued materials, laminated materials, they burn so fast, so hot.”

Tom Perkins, with the Baldwinsville Fire Department, said the area is still saddened by the death of a two-year-old girl who died in a house fire last year.

“I’m 99.9 percent convinced that sprinklers in that home would have saved a life,” Perkins said.

A final decision on updating the state's residential code will be made in March.