Residential Automatic Sprinkler Systems Proposed for New Homes

Residential Automatic Sprinkler Systems Proposed for New Homes
by Greg Brown - March 29, 2019

Next Thursday, April 4th, the East Fork Fire District will present a new Automatic Sprinkler Code for consideration by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. Within this code are important new automatic sprinkler regulations concerning NEW residential construction.

For some reason East Fork has chosen to exclude new homes less than 5,000 square feet that are located 1,000 feet or less from a fire hydrant.  This, despite a trend in the West to NOT exclude any new residential homes from a required sprinkler system, regardless of size or proximity to a fire hydrant.

Henderson, Las Vegas and the entire state of California require residential automatic fire sprinkler systems for all new one and two-family dwellings.  The Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District also has joined this trend.  What makes East Fork different?

In the documents presented to the BOCC last week there are other criteria like “High Wildland Fire Hazzard Classification Area” and “Building Height”.  It is unclear how East Fork’s yet to be defined Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Code will affect the sprinkler requirement.

A criterion that is missing in East Fork's document is response time.  A fire hydrant is an inanimate object until the fire fighters and their apparatus arrive.  Even then, using the hydrant can be problematic as it was in last year’s James Canyon fire.  Reno sets their sprinkler code response time at six minutes.

In 2004 Reno lost four homes in the Melody Lane subdivision before the fire department arrived.  In 2008 history repeated itself when they lost another six homes in the same area.   (See links to Melody Lane Fires Below).

East Fork Fire District should require residential Automatic Sprinkler Systems in all new construction of one and two family dwellings. This is especially true in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI).  The Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) is a two-way street.  The WUI poses a threat to residences and residential fires pose threats to other residences and the WUI.

2004 Melody Lane Fire

History Repeats itself:

2008 Melody Lane Fire