Why is Illinois in the sprinkler-mandate businesss?

June 1, 2013 

Let's stipulate that sprinklers are a good thing. If you had a fire in your home, you probably would be happy if you had them.

But sprinklers mandated by state government? That’s a bad idea. It would greatly add to the cost of new home construction — $3,000 upwards to $6,000 a house — and for what? New homes are the least likely to catch fire.

Of course, this would be the first step toward requiring sprinklers in existing homes. It would be something else for code enforcement officers to require when a property changes hands, just like wiring and electrical outlets often have to be updated.

The issue isn’t just whether to require sprinklers, but who gets to decide.

A requirement this significant should be decided by elected representatives of the people, but unless the legislature acts, the appointed state fire marshal would decide.

State Rep. Eddie Jackson, D-East St. Louis, had a chance to help stop the fire marshal and move the issue to the legislature, but instead he was the decisive vote in committee to support the fire marshal’s authority.

Only two other states require sprinklers in homes. That’s because smoke detectors are an effective, inexpensive early warning system.

Illinois needs to stop this latest government overreach.

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