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Fire Chief Opposes Bill to Ban Fire-Sprinkler Requirements for Single-family Homes

Fridley's Fire Chief isn't in favor of legislation that passed the House over two Fridley reps' 'No' votes.

A bill banning state and local codes from requiring fire sprinklers in single-family homes has passed the Minnesota House of Representatives and a state Senate committee, but it doesn't get a passing grade from Fridley Fire Chief John Berg.

The bill, H.F. 460, "flies in the face of the building code process that was established for debating and amending building codes that protect people," Berg said in an email.

The bill passed out of the state Senate's Judiciary and Public Safety Committee (over Sen. Barb Goodwin's "no" vote) and got its second reading in the state Senate last week.

State Reps. Tom Tillberry (DFL-51BA) and Kate Knuth (DFL-51A) cast votes against the bill. (Fridley's other representative, DFLer Carolyn Laine of House District 50A, is and did not vote.)

The bill, H.F. 460, states:

The State Building Code, the State Fire Code, or a political subdivision of the state by code, by ordinance, as a condition of receiving public funding, or in any other way, must not require the installation of fire sprinklers, any fire sprinkler system components, or automatic fire-extinguishing equipment or devices in any new or existing single-family detached dwelling unit.

Berg cited opposition from the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association (MSFCA) because the bill "takes the process of amending fire and building code out of the rule making process and into legislation. The fire service fought hard in the rule making process to have residential sprinklers included in the residential building code at the national level."

Berg added:

The reality is, that a residential fire suppression system costs about the same as a lawn irrigation system when installed in new construction. A residential fire sprinkler system works 24/7. The chance of a fire death in a sprinkled building is almost zero. Firefighters use more water in fire suppression than a sprinkler would i.e. less damage. Light weight construction (less cost to the builders) under fire conditions will collapse in a very short time if not protected by fire sprinklers. Each year there are firefighter deaths attributed to collapse of light weight construction under fire conditions.

Bills from Fridley's Legislators
Here are bills that Fridley's senators and representatives authored or co-authored since the , recent activity on earlier bills, and video clips of legislators in action.

Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-50)
Chief author of S.F. 1222, requiring nonpublic schools that receive certain forms of government aid to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state open-meeting law, and Pupil Fair Dismissal Act; and to report to the state on student performance, enrollment, school finance, and other topics. 

Sen. Pam Wolf (R-51)
Chief author of S.F. 1124, modifying the type of vehicles requiring child safety restraints; S.F. 1124, allowing electric-assisted bicycles on bike trails; S.F. 1146, requiring written request for public employee union dues checkoff for publications, foundations and political-action committees; and S.F. 1192, limiting dues checkoff for probationary teachers to the amount assigned to the local representative. Co-authored S.F. 1122, prohibiting private employers from inquiring about a job applicant's credit history; S.F. 1168, providing for equal time with each parent for children under joint custody; and S.F. 1213, modifying the system that tracks performance of adult education programs.

Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-50A) 
No new bills. 

Rep. Kate Knuth (DFL-50B)
Co-authored H.F. 1438, requiring domestic-partner benefits for state employees who get spouse benefits; H.F. 1503, providing funding for districts that choose to offer all-day kindergarten; and H.F. 1512, requiring a state study of the feasibility of harnessing geothermal energy from municipal wells. 

Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-51B)
Co-authored H.F. 1386, restricting credit and debit-card companies from unfair business practices; H.F. 1438, requiring domestic-partner benefits for state employees who get spouse benefits; and H.F. 1485, modifying tax rates and other laws concerning bingo, pull tabs and other gambling. 

John Berg April 20, 2011 at 01:23 AM
I stand corrected. Light weight construction does not save builders money. Sorry! John Berg

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