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In-Home Sprinkler Systems Now Required In New Homes

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If you're looking to build a new home next year, a new rule might cost you.

On Monday, Minnesota legislators published a new mandate that will require sprinklers in new homes that are larger than 4,500 square feet.

"This is a great move to keep our residents safer in single-family home construction," Eden Prairie Fire Chief and Minnesota Fire Chiefs Association fire legislative chair George Esbensen said.

Firefighters have overwhelmingly supported the rule.

Esbensen says houses today are built with lighter materials and furnished with more synthetics than older homes.

"It burns literally like gasoline or petroleum when it gets under fire," he said.

Not everyone thinks the rule is a good idea, however.

"We're disappointed," Builders Association of the Twin Cities executive director David Siegel said.  "It's unnecessary."

The Builders Association of the Twin Cities says newer homes aren't the problem given other current fire precaution codes.  The association points out 42 other states that have denied the mandatory sprinkler system.

"New homes are safe," Siegel said.  "The problem, frankly, is in existing stock and this doesn't address that issue at all."

Siegel says the sprinkler system will be costly for homeowners to install.

"We are all for safety, but we know that this really not going to save lives and it's going to cost people $9,000 to $20,000 a home," Siegel said.

The Minnesota Fire Chiefs Association says the sprinkler system would cost 1 percent of the home value. The rule will not apply to homes already built.

"The combination of working smoke alarms and fire sprinklers saves lives," Esbensen said.  "It's virtually 100 percent effective."

The rule will go into effect January 24th.

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