House bill forbids mandatory sprinkers in new homesby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A Minnesota House committee has approved a bill that would forbid state officials from requiring that new homes built in Minnesota include fire sprinklers.
Supporters of the legislation say a requirement to include sprinklers in every new home would increase the cost of construction at a time when home prices are declining.
The chief author of the bill, Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said she's concerned such a requirement would drive up home prices.
"We're not preventing anybody from putting in a sprinkler in their home. Anybody has the ability to do that," she said. "If you'd like to put a sprinkler in your home, I'm sure the builders would be happy to do that. My overall concern is the sheer cost of it."
Several fire safety groups, including the State Fire Marshal, argued that there are no requirements in law or building codes that require sprinklers be included in new homes.
Homebuilders worry the state could adopt new rules to change that.
Russell Sanders, with the National Fire Protection Association, said installing sprinklers in new homes will protect the public.
"Minnesota has a reputation of leading the country in fire safety and life safety issues," he said. "Please don't hamstring your fire service in this state with this bill and that's exactly what you'll do."
The House Commerce Committee approved the bill on a voice vote. The bill now moves to the full House for a vote.