New homes must have indoor sprinklers in unincorporated Clark County

New homes must have indoor sprinklers in unincorporated Clark County
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 11:44 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - New homes must have indoor sprinklers, according to a ordinance passed by the Clark County Commission.

The rule applies to single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes starting in March 2024. The cities of Las Vegas, Henderson and Reno have similar requirements for new construction.

There is a national push by fire safety advocates and fire departments to require such mandates.

The Clark County Fire Department issued a report with findings on how critical indoor sprinklers are to saving property and lives, describing how indoor sprinklers can intervene within a critical window:

  • 45 seconds: A smoke detector will sound the alarm.
  • 2 minutes, 30 seconds: The ceiling reaches a temperature of 165 degrees and smoke fills the air.
  • 4 minutes: 911 is called.
  • 10 minutes: by the time fire crews arrive, a house can be fully engulfed in flames.

Indoor sprinklers will typically turn on two minutes after a fire starts.

National fire standards dictate that crews should arrive in less than seven minutes; however, Fire Chief John Steinbeck reiterates how that may be too late, even if a home has working smoke alarms.

“Smoke detectors, they save a lot of lives. But we still lose people where we have functioning smoke detectors. Sometimes there’s hazards, fires move so quickly. People get taken over by the smoke, and still don’t get out of the home. The sprinkler keeps it in check,” Chief Steinbeck said. Indoor sprinklers, according to the report, save lives 97% of the time. “This is the next step in public safety. Many communities throughout the nation have identified the value of residential sprinklers. They provide unparalleled level of safety to home fires,” he said.

How much does it cost? The report indicates that the total cost for construction is $1,586.90. The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association endorsed the mandate, after working with the county on various cost concerns. The ordinance does not apply to homes currently under construction that may require new permits.

“We know that home costs are difficult. It’s really tough, especially for people just trying to get into the market. But we think that a home is designed to keep you safe, first and foremost,” Steinbeck said.

Home sprinkler systems do require a level of maintenance. Angi’s List broke it down here: Sprinkler maintenance