Little Falls Township Passes Resolution to Require Fire Sprinklers in Residential Homes

The Township Council of Little Falls, New Jersey has passed a resolution that supports a new code that would require all single-family homes, duplexes and townhouses to have fire sprinklers.

The landmark decision came after two main incidents brought to light the impact a fire sprinkler can have in an emergency situation. In April, eight people lost their home, and one firefighter was seriously injured, during a fire that ended up destroying an entire duplex located on Newark Pompton Turnpike. A Montclair State University dormitory experienced a fire during the same month; by contrast, a fire sprinkler was able to both contain the fire and extinguish it before authorities got to the scene.

“Fire sprinklers … would be a tremendous benefit to homeowners,” said Rich Silvia, president of the Fire Protection Association. “They’re protecting the most valued piece of property they would own in their lifetime.” Silvia, who is also a fire marshal, said that sprinkler installation is easy to do using either a separate or domestic water line.

He notes that ultimately, this move could help save homeowners money, not only by preventing costly fire damage, but through home insurance as well — homeowner’s insurance, he says, is usually reduced by about 10% for homes that have sprinklers.

The council’s resolution notes that 3,000 people nationwide are killed each year in fires, and cited the New Jersey Building Official Association’s, and the New Jersey Fire Protection Association’s support of the requirement.

The resolution has not, however, passed with full support, and Assemblyman Scott Rumana, who represents Little Falls, voted against the bill. “To make it mandatory that everyone has to have it means that you’re going to increase the cost to the consumer,” Rumana said. “It shouldn’t be mandated by the government that you must have this system in your home.” Rumana also notes that if the pipes are incorrectly installed, water damage can be very costly.

Edward Schumacher, a Little Falls developer, sees both sides of the debate but points out that getting a sprinkler is about more than just seeing the initial price-tag. “It’s an added expense, but sometimes people don’t know the value of it until they need it,” said Schumacher.

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