By Bob Katzen

The House gave initial approval to legislation that would allow cities and towns with a local option to require the installation of an automatic sprinkler system in every newly-constructed 1- or 2-family home.

Co-sponsor Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton) said that today’s new homes burn hotter and faster than those of the past because of modern construction techniques and synthetic furnishings. She noted that as a result, residents have less than three minutes to flee the average home without sprinklers.

“Approximately 50 people die in home fires every year in Massachusetts,” said Balser. “Research indicates that the risk of dying in a home fire is reduced by 80 percent because of sprinklers which can suppress and often extinguish a fire before the fire department arrives, giving residents the needed time to escape. Sprinklers also reduce firefighters’ exposure to the toxic products of combustion that cause cancer.”

“This legislation will provide increased fire protection to new dwellings across the commonwealth,” said co-sponsor Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford). “I sponsored the bill as the safety of our citizens is always my number one priority as a legislator.”

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