by Gary Spragins
Vote no on Proposition 301. The fire sprinkler proposition on your ballot has a hidden agenda which affects your private property rights. At issue are local amendments to the fire code that can take away your rights to make decisions about fire safety in your own home. It's about freedom of choice.
The ballot wording says this is a commercial building requirement. The verbiage "among other things" and certain existing buildings" hides under layers of ordinances, resolutions, exhibit A, section 1001, subtitles and pages of fire code regulations. The requirements mandate sprinkler systems in new homes, existing homes remodeled by as little as 20 percent (not just the 40 percent on the ballot), and may require a 500 gallon water storage tank if you have insufficient water pressure at your home.
These requirements will surrender your right to decide whether a sprinkler system is in your best interest. A sprinkler system in your home is forever! It is code, no removal is allowed! The fact is, the system is costly to install, must be inspected and maintained and a subsequent owner must "buy into" the sprinkler concept. The tax assessor, looking for every dollar of added value to your home, will increase the taxes.
These requirements further ignore special considerations in Payson, like cold winters, hard alkaline water that crystallizes on the sprinkler heads, special heat tapes for outside tanks, lines, valves and pumps and fluctuating water pressure. In April 2000, Underwriters Laboratories issued a warning after testing 1800 sprinklers from 100 locations and found that 26 failed at recommended water pressure. In July 2001, a manufacturer issued a recall notice of 35 million o-ring fire sprinkler heads because of reports that they failed to activate in a fire. Last week, Payson's Manzanita manor suffered damage from freeze-up of sprinkler systems.
Fire sprinklers can save lives. They may help protect people, fire fighters and property. This is not the issue! The issue is that you, the homeowner, should have the freedom of choice to install, or not, and whether to commit to the maintenance.
The Town of Payson codes fill volumes with do, don't, should, must. Go for a building permit and try to understand the codes. We have codes at every level of life and they usually begin at some bureaucratic level and become law without public knowledge or input.
At this point, the 'stuff" buried in proposition 301 is not law. Today, you still have some rights to assess your needs. wants and the affordability of a sprinkler system for your home. You can examine less costly and intrusive solutions to your needs. Do you have smoke and fire alarms, one or more portable fire extinguishers, evacuation plans for your family?
In some cases, local amendments to standard codes may have merit in Payson, but Prop. 301 is not in the best interest of our citizens rights. Faced with a badly written, intrusive proposition, I urge you to vote no. Stop government intervention into our lives, and retain your freedom of choice!