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Call to Action: Mobilize to Defend IRC Fire Sprinkler Requirements

October 1, 2009

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issue of On Scene

IAFC On Scene: October 1, 2009

Mark Your Calendar for Wednesday, October 28th

The 2009-2012 International Residential Code (IRC) development cycle is now underway, and to our disappointment, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has submitted proposals to rescind home fire-sprinkler requirements. This effort disregards the demonstrated value of sprinklers in saving lives and reducing human suffering associated with residential fires. To protect the public and firefighters, we must once again stand tall by opposing these changes.

What can I do to help?

  1. Vote against these proposals.
  2. Spread the word. NAHB’s proposals and others impacting fire- and life-safety—among them, proposals to require protection of lightweight construction in residential occupancies—will be heard at the International Code Council’s (ICC) upcoming hearing in Baltimore, Md., on Wednesday, October 28. Your attendance and vote are critical to keeping fire-sprinkler requirements in the IRC.

What’s required to vote?

You must become an ICC member prior to October 14 if you’re not already a member and you must attend the Baltimore hearing. Anyone with an interest in ICC codes can be a member; this includes firefighters, contractors, engineers, members of the public, etc. It only takes a few minutes to sign up online. For more information, go to

Can I vote without going to Baltimore?

No, you must be present to vote—no proxies allowed.

Do I have to be a government official to vote?

No, at this hearing, any ICC member, regardless of membership category, may vote.

Can ICC government agency members send more than the 4, 8 or 12 voting delegates allowed by their agency membership?

Yes, additional employees, including firefighters, can join ICC for $35 as associate members, and these individuals will be permitted to vote in Baltimore.

How important is the Baltimore vote?

The future of residential fire safety in America may well hinge on this vote. Winning the Baltimore vote would largely assure that sprinklers will remain a requirement in the 2012 IRC. Losing the vote would

  • Almost certainly derail the progress that we've made in states that are moving towards requiring sprinklers in new homes based on the 2009 codes.
  • Place the IRC sprinkler requirements at risk of being removed from the 2012 code at ICC’s final action hearing next year.

Fire- and life-safety advocates demonstrated their commitment to safe housing last year by making an unprecedented showing at ICC’s final action hearing in Minneapolis. Minneapolis represented the successful culmination of a 30-year effort to have model codes require fire sprinklers as a standard feature in all new homes. We must now ensure that this victory does not slip through our fingers.

Home fire sprinklers represent the best chance that we have of striking at the heart of America's fire problem. Please come to Baltimore and help us send a strong message to sprinkler opponents that America's Fire Service and others who support fire safe homes will not yield on this issue.

For more information, go to