In an effort to combat fast moving fires, the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein, which would require automatic fire sprinkler systems to be installed in new townhomes.
Now, this may be the safe thing to do, but it will also make it significantly more expensive to buy a townhome, because fire sprinkler systems are expensive to install. This cost to the builders will be offloaded to buyers, who will be forced to pay higher prices for the homes.
“Fire safety experts have pushed for requiring fire sprinkler systems in new construction for years, and I am glad to see this life-saving legislation advance,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex), “This bill, if enacted, will save lives and protect people’s homes. There is a reason we already require sprinkler systems in apartments, and it is time to similarly require them in other conjoined residential buildings.”
The bill, S-281, would require automatic fire sprinkler systems to be installed in new townhouses, which are defined under the bill as residential homes used by not more than two households that are constructed in a group of two or more attached units. If enacted, the construction permit for a new townhouse would not be declared complete without the installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system, though this requirement would not apply to townhouses that began the approval process prior to the effective date of the bill.
The bill was approved in a 5-0 vote.