The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security held a public hearing on June 9 on legislation that would allow cities and towns to mandate the installation of fire sprinklers in all newly constructed one and two-family homes. During the course of the three-hour hearing, the committee heard from representatives of the Massachusetts Fire Chiefs Association, the Professional Fire Fighters Association, the National Fire Prevention Association and the fire chief for the Town of Hopkinton, in support of Senate Bill No. 1627 and House Bill No. 2417. The HBRAMA was the only organization to testify in opposition to these measures.
The HBRAMA has consistently supported amendments to the State Building Code that enhance life-safety in residential structures where their benefits clearly exceed their costs and their adoption would not undermine housing affordability. The HBRAMA does not oppose fire sprinkler technology or the voluntary installation of these fire suppression systems. It opposes, however, the mandatory installation of sprinkler systems in one and two-family homes because such systems are complicated, costly, and are inconsequential in terms of their value in protecting the life and safety of the occupants of such residences.
Massachusetts already has some of the highest housing costs in the nation. Housing affordability, particularly for first-generation homebuyers and persons of color, is a serious social problem in the Commonwealth. Allowing cities and towns to mandate the installation of fire sprinkler systems in newly constructed one and two-family homes will only serve to be yet another barrier to homeownership.
A copy of the association’s letter in opposition to S.1627/H.2417 can be found here.