Sprinkler Rule in L.A. Would Save Lives

The opinion-page article ''L.A.'s Sprinkler Rule: All Wet,'' Aug. 15, attacked the visionary plan Los Angeles County is considering to require fire sprinklers in some new homes.

Contrary to the author's specious claims, national model fire codes and standards - such as those of the National Fire Protection Association - approve the use of plastic piping and allow 3/4-inch sprinkler pipes. The author demeans the life-saving power of sprinklers by citing their limitations when confronted with forest fires and earthquakes. These are not the principal fire hazards for a typical homeowner, but account for only a tiny fraction of deaths and property damage.

Sprinklers cut the likelihood of death and loss in a home fire by one-half to two-thirds. If county officials enact this requirement, they will have acted for the good of the community and should be commended.

George D. Miller Quincy, Mass.


National Fire Protection Association

Writer's note: The code approves only high-temperature PVC (CTVC) which is just as expensive as copper. The codes do not approve the use of ordinary schedule 80 PVC, one-quarter the cost of copper. Yes, the code says you can use a 3/4-inch pipe to supply one or two sprinklers. However, I was referring to the main supply line. No one denies that residential fire sprinklers save lives. But the codes make them ridiculously expensive.

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