Las Vegas Sun

November 30, 2015

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Henderson to require fire sprinklers in new houses

After about an hour of discussion Tuesday, the Henderson City Council unanimously passed a provision in its residential code that will require all new homes to be built with fire sprinkler systems.

“If there’s a notion that we don’t have a problem with fire in Henderson, that’s simply not the case,” said Fire Chief Douglas Stevens during a presentation to the council. Within the last five years, he said, three Henderson residents have died in home fires, and in the past year, 81 people have been hospitalized at UMC for burns.

By installing sprinkler systems in new homes, Stevens said, “we can prevent people from being burned alive or burned to death.”

The sprinkler systems put water onto a fire 15 to 90 seconds after a fire starts, Stevens said. Firefighters usually get water onto a fire within 10 minutes.

“We will never beat 15 to 90 seconds, no matter what we do,” Stevens said.

Henderson is the first municipality in the Las Vegas Valley to require residential fire sprinklers, according to Michael Bouse, director of the city’s building department.

The code is not retroactive, meaning it does not apply to existing homes.

The cost of putting a sprinkler system in a home is about $5,000, Bouse said. Typically, insurance companies offer lower rates — up 12 percent lower — to people with the systems in their homes, he said.

During the meeting, home builders expressed reservations about the provision, saying the city should look further into the sprinkler system as an option for homeowners to consider not a requirement for builders.

Councilwoman Debra March said she wanted to look at options before voting on the provision and favored a continuance to a later date. After hearing the rest of the council voice their support for the item to pass immediately, however, she voted in favor of the item.

Councilwoman Kathleen Boutin said she wanted to vote for the provision Tuesday night and not continue it to a future meeting because the city “probably should have implemented this a long time ago.”

“We’re dealing with damages on a daily basis,” Boutin said.

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