Mandatory Fire Sprinklers Are All Wet

Posted on April 15, 2005
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Cities throughout the valley are considering ordinances that will require fire sprinklers in new residential homes. It's no surprise that the leading proponents of such mandates are fire-sprinkler business owners.

As a recent Goldwater Institute report pointed out, vested business interests often use government regulations to impose dubious safety regulations that are more about enriching themselves than protecting the public. Accordingly, any requirements that infringe on private property rights should be closely scrutinized.

Besides, if this proposal is really about saving lives, why limit it to new homes?  What about requiring fire-proof building materials or even fire-proof furniture?  But for many first-time home buyers, the additional costs of fire sprinklers and other government-imposed regulations may prevent them from purchasing their own home. 

Once we accept the premise that the government can do whatever it wants to protect people from themselves, where will it end?  Prohibiting candles and gas stoves?  Prohibiting residential swimming pools? Before imposing costly regulations that infringe on private property rights, other options should be considered. In this case, fire prevention education or smoke alarms may be viable alternatives.

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