Benefits vs. costs...which will go up in "smoke"?

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - A proposed law is pitting consumer safety against consumer savings. More and more Texas cities now require fire sprinkler systems in new homes. State Senate Bill 1410 would ban cities from doing just that if it get's Governor Perry's stamp of approval, but some disapprove of this legislation.

House fires happen unexpectedly, spread quickly and can be deadly.

"The sprinklers save lives," said Chief Keith Newburn, with the Bullard Fire Department. "They save property."

At "", the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology posted some videos. They show two identical rooms; one with sprinklers and one without. For the sake of demonstration, a Christmas tree fire was started in both.

"A room can go fully involved in flame within a minute and a half," said Newburn. "If you add a sprinkler system, the fire is generally under control within 30 seconds."

Newburn says his department is already trying to keep up with a growing city. He wants the governor to veto the bill, telling us at least cities would have the option to requiring sprinkler systems in new homes.

"That's very much a public safety issue in our opinion," said Newburn.

"I have a problem with government taking rights away from homeowners," said Sam Mezayek.

Mezayek is a second generation homebuilder and Tyler City Council member. There are no sprinklers in his newest development. He says on average, they can add two percent to the cost of a home. He says that's something the consumer should choose to add, and these days, consumers are crucial.

"Right now, is not the time to add additional costs to homes," said Mezayek. "This is not the best economic time right now."

Insurance agent Missy Adams says it could mean more money in your pocket in the form of lower premiums.

"We did the calculation with the sprinkler so you could see how much the premium would be and how much without," said Adams. "It was about a $159 decrease.

Ultimately it's benefits versus costs. The wait is on to see which of the two go up in smoke. Senate Bill 1410 is expected to be vetoed or signed into law by the end of the month. Right now, most large apartment and commercial buildings do require sprinkler systems.

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