Will Missouri Reject Consumer Choice on Residential Fire Sprinklers?

State legislators will determine this session whether or not code-adopting jurisdictions in Missouri will have the authority to adopt a building code mandating residential fire sprinklers. If nothing is passed before the session ends in mid-May, the statute preventing jurisdictions from mandating residential fire sprinklers will expire at the end of this year (2011).

BACKGROUND: In 2009, the HBA of Greater Springfield and other HBA affiliates in the state fought hard to pass the “mandatory offer” statute, currently in effect in the state. This prevented adoption of code requiring fire sprinklers in new homes and left the choice where it belonged — with the homeowner. Under this provision, builders are obligated to offer installation of a fire sprinkler system on a new custom or spec home:

A builder of single family dwellings or residences or multi-unit dwellings of four or fewer units shall offer to any purchaser on or before the time of entering into the purchase contract the option, at the purchaser’s cost, to install or equip fire sprinklers in the dwelling, residence, or unit. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no purchaser of such a single family dwelling, residence, or multi-unit dwelling shall be denied the right to choose or decline to install a fire sprinkler system in such dwelling or residence being purchased by any code, ordinance, rule, regulation, order, or resolution by any county or other political subdivision. Any county or other political subdivision shall provide in any such code, ordinance, rule, regulation, order, or resolution the mandatory option for purchasers to have the right to choose and the requirement that builders offer to purchasers the option to purchase fire sprinklers in connection with the purchase of any single family dwelling, residence, or multi-unit dwelling of four or fewer units. The provisions of this section shall expire on December 31, 2011.

ADVOCACY PLANS: In addition to our HBA of Missouri lobbyist, Jewell Patek, working on this high priority issue during the 2011 legislative session, the HBA of Greater Springfield has also retained lobbyist Scott Swain and his associates on our behalf to focus exclusively on legislation pertaining to removing the sunset/extending the “mandatory offer” to install fire sprinklers at the expense of the home purchaser.

Several bills have already been introduced in the House pertaining to residential fire sprinklers and another should be introduced soon in the Senate:

House Bill 46 Diehl, John
Repeals a conflicting statute regarding the installation of fire sprinkler systems and removes the December 31, 2011 expiration date for Section 67.281, RSMo(LR# 0114L.01I)

House Bill 90 Scharnhorst, Dwight
Prohibits a political subdivision from adopting an ordinance, rule, or code that would require mandatory installation of a sprinkler system in new residential construction(LR# 0548L.01I)

STRENGTHEN OUR FIGHT AGAINST MANDATORY RESIDENTIAL FIRE SPRINKLERS IN MISSOURI. Send a message to our lawmakers — be a part of the HBA’s Legislative Day on Wednesday, April 6! Builders and remodelers are invited to take the bus to Jefferson City to let our legislators know how this mandate could completely destroy housing’s recovery. That means fewer jobs created and potentially more jobs lost in the state because as you know, HOUSING = JOBS! Associate members who sponsor the event at a certain level can join builder and remodeler members on the bus and participate in the day’s activities. For more information contact HBA Government Affairs Specialist, Jennifer McClure at jennifer@springfieldhba.com or call 838-1456.