Sussex should include fire sprinklers in building code

April 5, 2022

The following letter was sent to Sussex County Council with a copy provided to the Cape Gazette for publication. 

It is my understanding that Tuesday, April 5, you will be discussing and possibly introducing an ordinance to update the adopted Sussex County residential building code to the 2021 edition of the International Residential Code. I applaud your review of this edition of the IRC and strongly encourage all of you to leave the requirement for residential fire sprinklers intact, with no deletion, modification or exemption of this section of the code.

The requirement for residential fire sprinklers has been included in the IRC since the 2009 edition, as well as the subsequent edition updates of 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2021. These systems are proven life savers and property protectors. The lives protected not only include the residents of Sussex County, but also the first responders, from the fire, EMS and police agencies of Sussex County. 

When activated, the water flow from a sprinkler will control a fire and provide the occupants of a dwelling sufficient time to get out safely, as well as keep the fire in check until firefighters arrive. This almost immediate water flow will make the full extinguishment of the fire much easier on responders, and will allow the occupants to stay in their own home. The amount of water used is tremendously less than the flows used by firefighters when trying to extinguish an uncontrolled fire. The impact on ground water pollution and air pollution will also be significantly reduced.

As you continue to consider the 2021 edition of the IRC, I am more than happy to provide additional information regarding the advantages of residential fire sprinkler systems that will benefit not only Sussex County residents, but Sussex County developers as well. Please know that by including residential fire sprinklers in new construction, you will be protecting lives for generations to come.

Paul Eichler
Chairman, Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition
Chairman, Delaware Volunteer Firefighters' Association Sprinkler Committee
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