Charleston fire chief: Sprinklers will save money on insurance

By Tracey Amick  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Fire Chief Thomas Carr wants the new building code standards to be adopted in their entirety, requiring sprinkler systems in all new one and two family homes.

However, he faces opposition from homebuilders because it will cost more to build homes with sprinkler systems. Now legislation could block the sprinkler mandate from taking effect.

Carr says that while that could make homes a bit cheaper to build, the sprinkler elimination will cost homebuyers.

"New information on insurance rates regulators say they will increase everyone's homeowners rates for flood insurance as well as fire insurance," said Carr.

Carr says this opposition is similar to other requirements in the past. He just hopes the result is the same.

"It's like smoke alarms were in the 70's, and we can't live without them," said Carr.

Phillip Ford with the Trident Homebuilders Association says the insurance increase doesn't justify the initial cost of installing the sprinklers. As far as lifesaving aspects go,  he says life safety features like smoke detectors and firewalls are sufficient. If the bill blocking the mandate doesn't pass this year, the building code including the sprinklers would take effect in January 2011.

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