Minnesota legislature debating change in home sprinkler system guidelinesMoorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - The deadline is looming closer for Minnesota to make a decision on a bill about changing building codes. Homebuilders want to ban an upcoming change that would force them to install sprinkler systems in new, single family homes.
The deadline is looming closer for Minnesota to make a decision on a bill about changing building codes. Homebuilders want to ban an upcoming change that would force them to install sprinkler systems in new, single family homes. They say the benefits just don't outweigh the cost for home buyers, but fire officials say it's a matter of public safety.
When Dean Bloch built this home two years ago safety was a top priority.
Dean Bloch – Installed Sprinkler System in Home: "We build homes light as we can, has a lot of great benefits, but one of the drawbacks is fire."
Fire officials are fighting for a change in Minnesota's building codes, making sprinkler systems a requirement for new, single family houses. It’s a debate that hits home for Bloch, a Moorhead firefighter.
Dean Bloch: "It saves firefighters lives too, not just my family."
Bloch says it costs less than $4,000 to put in a sprinkler system like this throughout his home. He says every dollar is worth it.
Dean Bloch: "Somebody will put in granite counter tops and a sprinkler system and other upgrades, but they won't spend a couple bucks to protect what they built and their family?"
Stan Birky, a home builder, says codes already cover fire safety.
Stan Birky - Homebuilder: "The fire rate among new construction is so small."
Plus, Birky says sprinklers are expensive, and may deter buyers in our region from moving to Minnesota.
Stan Birky: "An average house can run from $3,200 to $7,300."
Birky says water damage can cause huge headaches, but Bloch says his sprinklers are tough as steel and not a problem.
Dean Bloch: "You're here, if you throw a ball and you hit it, you go downstairs and shut off the water."
One thing Bloch and Birky both agree on is that safety is the most important thing. It's just the level of protection keeping fire officials and home builders butting heads.
Minnesota legislators will decide by the end of this summer if they will allow a ban of the sprinkler system requirement to pass.