Firefighters call for law putting sprinklers in new homes

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH)– Fire officials are gathering in Middletown Tuesday to call for laws to make sprinklers mandatory in new homes.

Do sprinkler systems save lives and should they be in single family homes? Firefighters say yes to both, and they want to see that reflected in state law.

The Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition has done the demonstration several times. They construct two mock rooms, one with sprinklers, one without, light them both on fire and see how effective the sprinklers are.

“So what we’ve been doing is traveling around the state and providing education and trying to get legislation adopted through the legislature to require these systems in the homes,” explained West Haven

The idea is the water pouring onto the flames will either put them out, or slow down the spread of the fire enough to get you and your loved ones out of the house.

Related: How a sprinkler system can save your life during a house fire

The thing is, in Connecticut, sprinklers are not required in houses. They are an option for anyone having a new house built.

“There’s a state statute out there that the builder needs to provide education to the buyer that they are an option for them to install,” Flood said.

Flood is also chair of the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Association. That group wants lawmakers to make sprinklers mandatory in new homes. Just last month, a 6 year-old girl died in a fire in Plainfield. Habitat for Humanity built the house just months earlier. Fire officials say, if there had been sprinklers, the girl could have made it out alive.

Related: Officials: Sprinklers may have saved child killed in Plainfield fire

A bill in Hartford requiring sprinklers died in committee each of the last two years, but the coalition is trying again. You wouldn’t have to install them in your current home, but any new construction would have to have them.

“The regulation just says that any new 1-2 family homes have to have residential sprinkler systems, 13-D system installed within the home,” said Keith Flood, West Haven Fire Marshal.

The folks who build houses for a living are against this, mostly because it would add to the cost of a new house. News 8 spoke to a contractor who says the cost starts at about $5,000 and obviously goes up depending on the size of the house.

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