Fire sprinklers and stops may not be required under old building code

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Western Massachusetts told 22News, ideally, they’d like to see older homes with more fire protection.

From the New Year’s Day fire in Holyoke that killed three people to fires in Springfield, Pittsfield, Westfield and more, they all have one thing in common, multi-unit buildings.

New building codes require a sprinkler system, but old buildings are grandfathered in under the older building codes and only require sprinklers if the landlord chooses to renovate. Single family homes don’t require sprinklers, but the option may be priceless to potentially save a life.

“If you can afford it? Why not do it? The current cost is about 3-4 a square foot. For a 2,000 square foot home it’s about $8,000. Have you got $8,000 to spend on sprinklers. Would you rather have sprinklers or granite counter tops? That’s your call,” said Bradford Campbell, the CEO of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Western Massachusetts.

Fire marshal: Holyoke building’s alarm system wasn’t monitored during deadly fire

Newer homes are all built with fire stops. It’s a wooden block behind your sheetrock between the studs that stops fire from shooting through your walls like a chimney. A home inspector should look for this.

Bill Trudeau of the Insurance Center for New England said all basic homeowners policies cover fire, but if you rent or are part of condo association you may need extra coverage to replace your belongings. “The condominium may have it’s own insurance for the major structures but the unit owner needs a policy to protect the stuff inside the condominium but all of these policies cover fire.”

You can usually get a discount on your policy if your home has smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher and is close to a fire hydrant. If your inspector discovers your home does not have fire stops, talk to an expert about how you can use fire resistant foam or caulk to help protect your home from a disaster.