Legislation will soon be on the floor of the South Carolina House to override a requirement that all new homes in the state be constructed with fire sprinkler systems installed. The House bill passed the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee in March and numerous House members have requested debate on the bill.
The South Carolina Firefighters Association has been lobbying state lawmakers in favor of the requirement. Myrtle Beach Fire Chief Alvin Payne serves as vice president of the Firefighters Association.
Payne says more than 70 people died from residential fires in South Carolina last year.
Home builders support similar bills in the House and Senate. They say many new home buyers, especially people with lower incomes, would not be able to afford houses with sprinkler systems added to the price tag. And they argue that the vast majority of house fires would be taken care of with smoke detectors and home fire extinguishers without the major expense of a sprinkler system.
Chief Payne says even though opponents complain that the sprinkler systems would be cost prohibitive, he says new safety measures commonly face resistance at first. He says safety codes often require safety measures that people might not order on their own, but it doesn’t mean the codes aren’t important, as is the case with electrical codes.
(Firefighter Payne on sprinklers MP3 2:40)
Firefighter Payne on sprinklers