The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is condemning the formal approval of new building safety codes in Connecticut, alleging that changes made to the previous codes will increase the state’s residents’ vulnerability to fire.
The criticism comes in the wake of the legislative Regulation Review Committee’s finalization of new safety codes, including a State Building Code, Fire Safety Code and Fire Prevention Code, which will go into effect by October 2018.
“None will include requirements for fire sprinklers that are part of nationally recognized safety codes – including the International Residential Code and the Life Safety Code,” according to a statement issued by the NFPA. “As a result, the Connecticut codes fall short of using proven measures to keep Connecticut families and firefighters safe from fire.”
From the statement:
The previous version of the Connecticut codes, which the Committee rejected, underwent an extensive, public approval process over 18 months that included input from experts in construction, development, engineering and fire safety. The original proposed State Building Code included a provision that would require fire sprinklers in new townhome construction, but following fierce opposition from homebuilders and other special interests, state legislators who sit on the Committee chose to strip that provision before approving the code.
Changes made "behind closed doors"
“The breakdown of the code process in Connecticut is indicative of a larger problem that jeopardizes safety for residents across the country,” said NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley. “The fact that months of work and input from experts was discarded at the eleventh hour behind closed doors shows how special interests like the homebuilders have hijacked this process. They continue to put their bottom line ahead of saving lives.”
The fire services community, first responders, burn advocates and others worked with the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition to support the fire sprinkler requirement in Connecticut because of sprinklers’ proven effectiveness in protecting people and property. In fact, the death rate is 81 percent lower in homes with fire sprinklers than in homes without them.
Every edition of the national safety codes used in the U.S. since 2009, include the requirement to install fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. The use of current codes ensures jurisdictions benefit from the latest research, technology and learnings regarding safety. Research has shown that the clear majority of consumers expect the government to implement and enforce up-to-date codes.
“Connecticut residents should not be forced to live in substandard homes when the code process is taken over by the special interests,” Pauley said. “Connecticut legislators have a responsibility to keep people safe, and they have shirked that responsibility.”
This action comes after the much publicized death of a six-year old girl in a Plainfield Connecticut home in 2016 only months after the family moved into the newly built home. That home has now been rebuilt with sprinklers, in a clear admission that this simple technology saves lives.
About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.