By the authority vested in me, pursuant to part II, Article 44 of the New Hampshire Constitution, on July 13, 2011, I vetoed SB 91, an act relative to residential fire sprinklers.
SB 91 prohibits local governing bodies from requiring the installation of a fire suppression sprinkler system in proposed one or two-family residences as a condition of approval for a local permit. While it preserves exiting local ordinances requiring automatic sprinkler systems in the communities that have adopted such ordinances, it would eliminate enforcement of any existing ordinance that requires sprinklers in manufactured housing units that are situated in a manufactured housing park.
The State Fire Marshal and numerous local fire departments across the State believe that local officials should continue to have the ability to require automatic sprinkler systems as an option when evaluating new residential construction.
This bill will limit the choices available to communities in meeting local fire control requirements. Instead of providing a range of options, communities will now have to revert to requiring what may be more costly options: fire ponds, cisterns, wider road widths, increasing the size of building lots and increasing the size of distance between buildings.
The decision of whether or not to require automatic sprinkler systems for new or renovated residential development has been, and should remain, a local one. The State should not preempt local decision-making. That is why I vetoed HB 109, a related bill that prohibits local planning boards from adopting regulations requiring sprinklers for one and two family homes in new subdivisions. SB 91, like HB 109, will remove local control over an important issue.