New Habitat for Humanity Houses Include Fire Sprinkler Installation

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A new home in Rockland, Maine, is the 29th project completed by the Midcoast Maine Habitat for Humanity project, but it’s also the first of its kind to feature a residential fire sprinkler installation.

On Sunday, June 12, community volunteers watched as the house keys were handed over to Harmony Fuller and her five-year-old son, Maddox. The one-story, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house is the first built by the area Habitat for Humanity branch that is up to code with the City of Rockland’s new guidelines that mandate entire-house fire sprinkler systems for new constructions.

Fire sprinkler installation is common in commercial buildings for obvious reasons. Every year, hotel and motel fires cause $76 million in property loss damages, and in 2010, U.S. fire departments had to respond to 1,200 hospital fires. Additionally, apartment buildings, hotels, offices, and health care centers account for half of all high-rise fire incidents.

Yet this level of fire protection is less common in residential single-home properties, possibly because of expense. Midcoast Habitat For Humanity Executive Director Tia Anderson said she had to apply for extra grant funding to cover the fire sprinkler installation fees.

“We just had to make the case that it?s a health and safety issue, which it was because the code enforcement and the fire department were telling me I had to do it,” Anderson said. “We’re going to do as much as we can to help people in need of a home.”

Despite the challenges of meeting the new regulations, Habitat worker Mike Amoroso said the Rockland project was one of the best he’s ever been involved with. “I can honestly say that what we’ve experienced this past week is one of the most seamless projects that I?ve been a part of,” he told reporters.

The project contracted two builders, Phi Homes Design and Cold Mountain Builders, to get the work done on time. “For two builders that are in a pretty competitive building environment in this industry right now to be able to come together and work cooperatively together out on the same job site speaks a lot about the people who are a part of these organizations,” Amoroso said.

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