Debate over home fire sprinklers heats up in Maine

Posted July 17, 2011, at 9:44 a.m.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — The debate over whether to mandate fire sprinklers in new homes is heating up in Maine.

South Portland City Council is expected to take up the issue later this summer. If it passes, South Portland would join Portland, Westbrook and Rockland as the only municipalities in Maine with such a requirement.

Gorham, Falmouth and Sanford have limited ordinances that require sprinklers under certain circumstances, such as new homes in subdivisions that don’t have water sources for fire departments.

The Maine Sunday Telegram says those local efforts are part of a nationwide debate that’s been going on since the mid-1980s, when Scottsdale, Ariz., became the first major city to mandate sprinklers in new homes.

South Portland Fire Chief Kevin Guimond says the sprinklers save lives. Homebuilders, real estate agents and banks oppose such requirements.

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