Opinion

Sprinklers should be optional in single-family homes

fire sprinklers This is a belated response to the Nov. 13th letter on requirements for fire sprinklers in Woodinville, from the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District.
   Just as King County did years ago when it adopted sprinkler requirements for unincorporated areas, the Woodinville F&LSD gives the impression that single-family homes are not affected.
   That is not the case. If you have what is regarded by the fire district as an access problem, i.e., less than 20-foot-wide driving surface, a short road section that exceeds a 15% grade, or a too-small turnaround, your building permit will be accompanied by a requirement to include sprinklers.
   (One family east of Woodinville paid $7,000 for sprinklers; and then a tree fell on the house, breaking the sprinklers and causing $30,000 worth of water damage. Many other sprinklers have malfunctioned, causing severe water damage.)
   By the way, when I speak of access problems, I don't mean on-site problems, I mean problems in any of the roads that provide access to your building site--roads over which you have no control.
   Newspaper headlines on Feb. 6, 1995, trumpeted "Kirkland Eyes Area's Stiffest Fire Sprinkler Rules," but the article stated that houses and duplexes "would be exempted from these requirements as they are from Kirkland's existing sprinkler rules."
   It's one thing to be living in an apartment where there's no control over who's smoking in bed; but single-family homes should not be required to have sprinklers; sprinklers should be optional.
   If Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, and other jurisdictions don't require sprinklers in single-family homes, why should Woodinville?

Maxine Keesling, Woodinville