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Sprinkler Rule in L.A. Would Save Lives

The opinion-page article ''L.A.'s Sprinkler Rule: All Wet,'' Aug. 15, attacked the visionary plan Los Angeles County is considering to require fire sprinklers in some new homes.

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Contrary to the author's specious claims, national model fire codes and standards - such as those of the National Fire Protection Association - approve the use of plastic piping and allow 3/4-inch sprinkler pipes. The author demeans the life-saving power of sprinklers by citing their limitations when confronted with forest fires and earthquakes. These are not the principal fire hazards for a typical homeowner, but account for only a tiny fraction of deaths and property damage.

Sprinklers cut the likelihood of death and loss in a home fire by one-half to two-thirds. If county officials enact this requirement, they will have acted for the good of the community and should be commended.

George D. Miller Quincy, Mass.


National Fire Protection Association

Writer's note: The code approves only high-temperature PVC (CTVC) which is just as expensive as copper. The codes do not approve the use of ordinary schedule 80 PVC, one-quarter the cost of copper. Yes, the code says you can use a 3/4-inch pipe to supply one or two sprinklers. However, I was referring to the main supply line. No one denies that residential fire sprinklers save lives. But the codes make them ridiculously expensive.

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