ICC Panel Upholds Vote on Fire Sprinkler Mandate
The International Code Council panel charged with hearing NAHB’s appeal of the September vote on the code changes to mandate fire sprinklers in the International Residential Code decided on Dec. 11 to recommend that the mandate should remain, as approved, in the 2009 Edition.
However, the panel recommended that the ICC should address at least two of the concerns that NAHB brought to the table in its appeal: the growing use of third-party funding to influence voting at code hearings and the procedures and policies dealing with the requirements for ICC Governmental Members and their voting representatives.
“While NAHB is disappointed that the ICC appeals board did not recommend that the vote be set aside, we are pleased that its members recognized many of our concerns and voted to bring them to the Code Council’s board of directors,” NAHB Chairman Sandy Dunn said.
The ICC board will meet to consider the panel’s recommendations on Dec. 19.
The NAHB appeal centered not on the substance of the code change, but the process and whether the principles of fairness and balance of interest had been compromised when a large contingent of voters representing the fire service was permitted to be designated as voting representatives and vote at this year’s final hearings.
Further, NAHB raised concerns about the influence of third-party funding and questioned the qualifications of many of the newly designated voting representatives who appeared not to satisfy the ICC bylaws requirement that they be employees or public officials of the jurisdiction actively engaged in code enforcement or administration.
The appeals panel agreed that many of the issues raised merited further review by the ICC board but indicated that it had found insufficient grounds to recommend setting aside the vote on the fire sprinkler mandate.
The vote does not change NAHB’s stance that residential fire sprinkler systems should not be mandated for all one- and two-family homes, Dunn said.
“Home builders are dedicated to the safety of the communities in which they build. As a society, we cannot afford to deny needed housing for the sake of new requirements without proven benefits,” she said.
“For these two reasons, NAHB disagrees with fire sprinkler mandates in all one- and two-family homes and supports programs that encourage the installation and maintenance of smoke alarm systems in all homes. Our members will continue to advocate for cost-effective construction and life-safety measures through the model code process that will provide safe, decent and affordable housing,” Dunn said.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.