Subject: SB 129 -- Residential
Sprinkler System Requirements
By David Hull
March 22, 2010
This residential sprinkler system debacle needs some air clearing
I believe. First of all, I oppose SB 129 because I don't think
the state should pick and choose the way the local community
should conduct their business. It has nothing to do with the
installation of residential sprinkler systems. This bill has
to do with whether or not the local community can make an appropriate
decision on their own to require the sprinkler systems or not.
The state and the home builders apparently think we can t be
trusted to do things the way we always have. We need more process
and state guidance on this one specific issue. Why?
There has been a lot of misinformation put out there regarding
these systems and what insurance companies will or won't charge.
There was even one claim that residential sprinkler systems
will raise your taxes because it will raise the value of your
home if you install them. Now it is being suggested that sprinkler
systems were never intended to save lives, only property. Well,
I have been in this business for almost 36 years and have seen
more fire deaths in this community than I care to remember.
The sights, the smells, the aftermath with the families; no one
should have to go through that. I have never seen a major injury
in any fire where the structure had a sprinkler system. Look
at what just happened at Holy Name School. Remember the fire
at White Cliff School? Home sprinklers do the same thing. They
put out the fire before it gets out of hand. Everyone got out
of the schools unharmed. A few years ago, 4 children died in
a house fire that was not equipped with sprinkler systems. This
last year a person almost died in a house fire not equipped with
a sprinkler system and both smoke detectors were rendered useless
by unhooking the batteries. What use were they? OK, the sprinkler
systems did save the school property, but they also saved lives.
Isn't it good they did more than was intended? Sounds like a
pretty good return on our investment.
Smoke detectors DO save lives but as with anything they have
their limitations. The main limitation is maintenance. As mentioned
above, if you don't take care of them they won't work when you
need them. Yes, sprinkler systems have the same problems. Think
about it, your whole house has to be maintained or it will fall
down around your ears. The truth of the matter is that a combination
of smoke detectors and sprinkler systems makes for the safest
environment and the best chance of escape in case of a fire.
One thing that has never been mentioned here and should not
be forgotten is those sprinkler systems help protect firefighters
as well. The less fire to fight means the less chance of getting
a firefighter hurt. Remember, over 100 firefighters die each
year and over half are volunteer firefighters. Are they worth
a sprinkler system?
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this debate is that
it really doesn't involve installing residential sprinkler systems
at all. It involves the process of requiring them. The state
is saying to the local communities that, because this one specific
issue -- residential sprinkler systems -- is so volatile we
can't be trusted to move forward in a reasonable and ethical
manner to decide for ourselves if we want to require residential
sprinkler systems or not in our community. Is this true? Ketchikan,
can't we be trusted?
Because the state doesn't trust us on this issue they are dictating
how we must do it, their way, not ours. The sponsors -- The home
builders -- support this because they don't want the requirement
to install residential sprinkler systems. OK, so let's make the
process harder and more costly. That way most communities won't
ever bring the issue up. No local vote, no residential sprinkler
system requirements. Simple! Not on every resolution or ordinance
mind you, only on residential sprinkler systems. They apparently
do not think us mature enough to make a decision on this issue
for ourselves utilizing the process we developed locally. No
Sir! This is the only way it can be done properly and ethically.
The City of Ketchikan and the Borough have a process that works
pretty well for multimillion dollar deals, construction projects,
ethics matters and other such community needs. Was this needed
on the Pool? How about the new High School or maybe the proposed
Library? How about the new fire station? Was this new process
needed there? Did we have to have extra meetings to discuss
any of these issues? Did our process fail us?
Were cost-benefit analysis reports done on each of these? The
process worked just fine without the state involvement that SB
129 requires. Why then do we just need to do it for residential
sprinkler systems? Council and Assembly members think about
it. The state is saying YOU can't be trusted to decide. How
does this make you feel? How should it make me feel about your
ability to decide any issue? Can you decide?
In the end, it is our local process that is being put into question
here, not residential sprinkler systems. If this community does
not want residential sprinkler systems, fine! Let's talk about
it and make a decision the way we always have. We don't need
the state telling our elected officials how to do their work.
That is our job. The process is just fine the way it is. If
it isn't, then we need new elected official's not new state laws.
David Hull, Homeowner
Tired of outside interference
About: "Resident for 39
years and NO, my house does not have a sprinkler system but I
wouldn't hesitate to purchase or build a house with a residential
sprinkler system installed."
Received March 19, 2009 - Published
March 22, 2010
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