Senate Approves Sprinkler Mandate Repeal

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate of Pennsylvania has approved legislation that will remove the current mandate to install automatic sprinkler systems in new single family homes, according to Senator John R. Gordner R-27). House Bill 377, sponsored by Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), now returns to the House for expected concurrence on Senate amendments to the bill.

“I’m pleased the Senate voted to remove this costly and unnecessary mandate. As we move into the spring construction season, it is vitally important a strong housing industry help the state recover from the worst economy of our lifetimes,” said Senator Gordner. “We also amended the bill with common sense provisions that will allow us to avoid this situation in the future.”

Pennsylvania’s Construction Code is automatically updated every three years when the International Code Conference approves new construction standards, however, the Senator said automatic adoption of construction standards not applicable in Pennsylvania have caused problems with the Code.

“After every triennial update by the ICC, the General Assembly has had to act to exclude provisions that are not applicable in Pennsylvania,” Senator Gordner said. “For example, the ICC previously mandated construction standards for hurricane and earthquake zones that make no sense for Pennsylvania homes and only add to the construction costs, forcing the General Assembly to act.”

House Bill 377 as amended by Senator Gordner in the Labor and Industry Committee will now require the Commonwealth to opt in to any new International Code changes to ensure they are applicable to Pennsylvania. Those decisions will be made by the Uniform Construction Code Advisory Council within the Department of Labor and Industry.

“By removing the sprinkler mandate, which added thousands to the costs of new home construction, and by changing the Code process, we can ensure safe and affordable housing for Pennsylvanians, and help place the Commonwealth in a position to recover from the economic downturn,” Senator Gordner concluded.

House Bill 377 passed the Senate by a vote of 33-17. The House is expected to quickly concur to the Senate amendments and send the bill to Governor Tom Corbett for his signature so that the law can be in place by the end of April.