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Carroll Valley debates in-home sprinkler system

Danielle Ryan

(3/24) Mandated in-home automatic sprinkler systems have been a topic of discussion in Carroll Valley as the community continues to stand divided on the subject. The regulation was re-visited a few months ago after Carroll Valley Borough Council member Tyler Pyles asked the Council to reconsider the mandate. The Carroll Valley Planning Commission has since stewed over the topic, and in February recommended that the Board continue to keep sprinklers as a mandated item. However, some members of the community wish for the topic to be re-visited.

As it currently stands, all one and two family dwellings and townhouses constructed in Carroll Valley are required to have an automatic sprinkler system installed. The installation of these systems adds a significant additional cost to homebuilders. Unfortunately, realtors in the area have seen this regulation as a deterrent for several potential homeowners looking to build in Carroll Valley.

The question of whether or not in-home sprinklers should be a choice or mandated is still circling the Borough. Several Real Estate Agents including Trish Rowe and Kim Mills, were present during the March Borough Council meeting, and urged the Board to reconsider the regulation. Mills noted that she has lost at least five individuals who were interested in building in Carroll Valley, but after evaluating the finances for the build, turned away from the Borough because the mandated sprinkler systems pushed the project well over budget. "There are so many lots sitting empty, but people arenít building. I ask that Council bring the topic up again and reintroduce it for reconsideration," stated Mills.

The Borough of Carroll Valley is currently the only Borough in Pennsylvania that has in-home sprinklers as a mandated item. "The builders are staying out of the area, weíre losing people right and left due to this one item that no one else has in this area," said Trish Rowe. Rowe also mentioned that she has walked into several foreclosed homes that were ruined by misfiring of the sprinkler systems, which was ultimately due to improper winterization.

On the other hand, many see this item as a safety concern in place to benefit locals. During the February Council meeting, Fire Marshall, John Waters gave a presentation on behalf of the surrounding fire companies stressing the importance of this regulation. Fire Departments simply canít get to a burning home fast enough. Even on a good day, the Fire Department generally doesnít arrive on scene until nine minutes after receiving the 911 call. That isnít quick enough when a building reaches the doomed flashover point in only three to four minutes. "Carroll Valley is a leader," said Waters, "other Boroughís should follow suit and mandate in-home sprinkler systems."

In fact, local fire departments feel so strongly about this topic that a home fire sprinkler live-burn demo is being held and is open for the public. All are invited to see firsthand the effectiveness of fire sprinkler protection in homes. A live-burn prop will be showcased in the parking lot of the Frederick County Fire-Recue Museum / National Fire Heritage Center at 300B South Seton Avenue on April 8. Experts in fire sprinkler design, installation and maintenance will be available to answer questions while First Responders from the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) and Emmitburg Volunteer Ambulance Company will be participating in support of the demonstration.

Perhaps this topic will be re-visited by the Borough in the future, but for now in-home sprinkler systems are required for Carroll Valley builders.

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