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New Law Repeals Sprinkler Mandate in PA Construction Code, Tobash Says

Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Berks) said a new law repealing a Uniform Construction Code mandate to install sprinklers in all new construction of single-family and two-family homes is the right move for Pennsylvania. 

“Installing sprinkler systems comes at a significant cost, and I believe homeowners should have the opportunity to weigh the costs and benefits and make the decision that is best for them,” Tobash said. “The last thing we need in this struggling economy is for government to add to the cost of building a home.” 

It is estimated that installing a sprinkler system can add anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 to the cost of new home construction. The costs tend to be higher in rural areas, where small municipal water supplies or wells are not adequate to support the systems.  

Tobash acknowledged slightly higher survival rates in homes with sprinklers, but reiterated his belief that homeowners should be able to consider that information and make their own decisions. Statistics show that people who live in homes with sprinklers and smoke detectors have a 99.65 percent survival rate, as opposed to 99.45 percent in homes with smoke detectors only. To address safety concerns raised by firefighters, the law does require the use of fire proof materials to protect the underside of floors. 

Act 1 of 2011 also changes the way the state’s building code will be updated in the future. Rather than automatically adopting any changes made to the International Codes Council family of codes, the law requires the state’s Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council to hold public hearings to determine the impact new provisions may have, including financial impact. A two-thirds majority vote would be required before implementing any new code requirements. 

The law takes effect immediately.  

State Representative Mike Tobash
125th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Patricia Hippler

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