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Letter: Building code delayed, but not due to sprinklers

Just wanted to share my thoughts on your article, "State delays fire sprinklers in new homes constructed after Jan. 1, 2010." I have been a fire chief since 1995 and passionate about sprinklers and significantly involved in this issue in both the code adoption, advocacy and education. My house has been retrofitted with residential sprinklers at a cost of just under $4,000 covering 4,400 square feet plus 1,100 square feet of garage.

While accurate, your article was incomplete in that it clearly leaves the reader with the impression that the primary (even sole) reason for delaying the adoption was due to the residential sprinkler component.

From my involvement, which is considerable, the decision first started with the fire marshal inquiring to fire service leaders our thoughts on foregoing the adoption of the 2009 IFC (fire code) citing significant cost and time issues (both of which are true) in the rule-making process combined with the lack of any major changes in the 2009 version. The marshal received feedback ranging from support to "bad idea." This discussion took place, among other places, at a code committee meeting in which building officials are present and regularly attend.

There is an actual agreement between the building code department and the fire code division to adopt both codes simultaneously as they have many crossover provisions.

At no time was I aware of any discussion to forego the 2009 cycle due to the residential sprinkler component, nor was there a need to forego it because of that as the rulemaking process allows for input and deliberation. Rather, it was, as their letter clearly stated, due to the fiscal impacts incurred as part of the rulemaking process. In fact, I am unable to find a citation in their letter referencing the residential sprinkler requirement in the IRC as a determinant factor. Thus, in my opinion, your headline deceives the reader. Perhaps the article should have appeared in the editorial page or op ed piece, especially given the frequency in which the builders are quoted as com-pared to fire and code officials being quoted.

Nyle Zikmund

Fire Chief

SBM Fire Department

Spring Lake Park, Minn.