Tyco still courting builders

Thursday, March 1, 2007

LANSDALE, Pa.--One year after Tyco Fire and Building Products launched a new residential sprinkler line and a campaign to get homebuilders actively involved in promoting residential sprinklers, Tyco executives say they're pleased with the steady progress they've made.
"We are still investing heavily in the initiative," said Carmine Schiavone, vice president of business development at Tyco Fire and Building Products. Tyco began the program in January 2006 when it launched its Rapid Response sprinkler line (see "Tyco woos builders" in the March 2006 issue of Security Systems News).
Acknowledging that homebuilders have typically been anything but advocates for sprinklers, Schiavone also noted that once builders learn the facts about sprinklers, they often change their tune. While "most builders still view fire sprinklers as another trade that you have to manage and an incremental cost to buyers," some have begun to view sprinklers as "a benefit they can provide to a homeowner," he said.
Tyco attended 10 regional homebuilder shows last year, and "to date we have a dozen or so builders [such as Pulte Homes] in our Rapid Response builder program out actively promoting sprinklers. We've made pockets of progress," he said.
Many builders believe that sprinklers will eventually be a ubiquitous requirement in new construction--and for good reason, Schiavone said. Last year, the National Fire Protection Association code was altered to recommend that new one- and two-family homes be built with sprinkler systems. In May, a second code-making body, the International Code Council, may follow suit.
Indeed, ICC spokesman Steve Daggers confirmed via email "at least two code change proposals that will be heard during the International Code Council's Final Action Code Hearings in Rochester, New York, May 18-26, advocate sprinklers in the International Residential Code for one- and two-family dwellings."
Last year, Schiavone said Tyco planned to bring its message first to homebuilders, and then to the general public. "We are still in phase one," he said. Although, he noted, Tyco has done some outreach and been featured in mainstream home and design magazines, and the Today Show did a story on fire sprinklers in the fall.