Important Fire Sprinkler Legislation Filed in Missouri Senate

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson CitySenate Bill 108 has been filed by Missouri Senator Eric Schmitt. Schmitt, who represents a portion of St. Louis County, also serves as the Senate Majority Caucus Secretary. Currently, provisions of law which prohibit adoption of code mandating installation of fire sprinklers in certain home dwellings are set to expire on December 31, 2011. This act (SB108) removes the expiration date as well as a doubly enacted section regarding this provision. The bill has already received overwhelming support from Schmitt’s fellow Senators — a bipartisan group of 28 Senators, out of 34 total, have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation. That includes key leaders from both sides of the aisle including President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, Asst. Majority Floor Leader Jack Goodman, Majority Caucus Whip Mike Parson, Minority Floor Leader Victor Callahan, Asst. Minority Floor Leader Jolie Justus, and Minority Caucus Secretary Robin Wright-Jones. In addition to leadership members Parson and Goodman from our region, Senators Jay Wasson (Nixa), Bob Dixon (Springfield), and Ron Richard (Joplin) are also co-sponsors of the legislation.

At present, proposed amendment language to this bill is circulating from members of the Missouri Fire Alliance which contains the additional requirement for any residences which have been constructed of engineered structural wood products or light-frame construction materials not protected by an NFPA 13D or P2904 compliant sprinkler system or other approved automatic sprinkler system shall be provided with a 1/2 inch gypsum wall board membrane or equivlent: (1) on the underside of the floor and roof assembly framing member, and (2) upon any structural component supporting the floor and roof assemblies. There would be an exception for crawl spaces meeting certain criteria. The industry consensus is that this would again be cost prohibitive and far beyond the normal scope of safety addressed by building codes to protect those who live in the home.

It is apparent this issue will require a tremendous amount of monitoring and engagement by the industry to make certain we are able to more permanently address the issue of residential fire sprinklers in Missouri. We have a very short window of opportunity this legislative session to communicate this priority to our legislators. You can help by participating in the HBA’s Legislative Day at the state capitol on April 6. As a builder/remodeler member you can join us on the bus and participate in the day’s activities in Jefferson City at no cost. Our associate members who sponsor at a certain level to make this possible will also have the opportunity to ride the bus with the builder/remodeler members and participate in advocacy activities at the capitol. For more information contact Government Affairs Specialist Jennifer McClure at 838-1456.