Starting this year, homes built in Southern California and throughout the state will be sold with a virtual firefighter in every room, on duty 24 hours a day to save lives.
That is the way fire marshals describe California building code amendments that now require every single-family home and duplex built anywhere in the state to be equipped with a fire sprinkler system.
The provision, which became effective Jan. 1, 2011, is hoped to make a dent in fire fatalities, which nationally claim the lives of eight people a day.
A March 2010 report from the National Fire Protection Association found that, in a five-year period, the death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was 83% lower when sprinkler systems were present than when they weren't.
The home building industry, which resisted sprinklers in single family houses for more than two decades, says in California, it will add about $4,000 to the cost of an average house, or about $2 per square foot.
Before Jan. 1 California had no statewide building code requi ...