My take: Sprinklers for new homes a no-brainer


From time to time, I have made the case in this space for requiring fire sprinkler systems in new homes.

In the current environment, high mortgage interest rates could slow down efforts to require new homes to come with sprinkler systems. 

Some headway has been made in Sussex County, which has a large number of new homes, often purchased by elderly residents.


However, progress has been nonexistent elsewhere, with homebuilders and others claiming the cost of the installations is excessive while passing along the myth that water damage from the sprinklers sometimes amounts to more than damage from the fire itself.

It doesn’t help that discounts on homeowner insurance bills are not enough to move the needle.

A fire over the weekend in neighboring Elkton, MD, provided first-hand proof of the effectiveness of sprinklers, which are required in Maryland’s new homes. The state also bars other governmental units from weakening the mandate.

Damage from a fire that resulted from a malfunctioning fan was $10,000, with the sprinkler confining the damage to one area of the structure. It is highly like that minus the sprinklers, the total damage would be in the six figures, with lots of water damage.

Supporters of a sprinkler mandate also claim that costs for the system would go down with more opportunities for contractors to install the systems. More installations could bring down costs and open the door to refitting existing homes, especially 20 to 30-year-old properties with plastic piping that often needs replacement.

Meanwhile, Delaware has seen its share of newer homes go up in flames, sometimes with losses running half a million dollars or more.