Upcoming votes by the Berlin Town Council and Worcester County Commissioners will decide whether the area opts out of regulations requiring sprinklers in newly-built single family homes. Those for the measure argue this may help save lives and make fighting fires safer, something that everyone can certainly get behind.
Unfortunately, this is another unnecessary regulation where there is simply no overriding reason to implement the requirement. Objective consideration of a proposed safety measure reveals there’s only so much that can be done preventatively; all the prevention in the world is, in the end, mostly about peace of mind.
It is tragic that anyone loses their lives in any accidental way. But the largest percentage of fire fatalities are, like car fatalities, directly attributable to human action. This is what gets to the heart of the matter. Fire isn’t a disease which can be cured, it is an accident that can only be mitigated against.
It is telling, not only that the government elected to postpone the enactment of what they knew was an odious rule until after the election but also their reasoning — they felt the 2009 economy was too fragile to sustain the kinds of costs associated with the new rules.
The prohibitive cost of adding sprinklers to new homes is the argument most used by those against the measure but an honest look at the proposal shows, in practicality, the legislation will have little effect on fire mortality.