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In California, where I live, hundreds of towns and cities now mandate sprinklers in new residential construction. But this is not just another West Coast trend. Small towns across the country — like Gorham, Maine, for example — concerned about the distance to remote homes from fire stations and a lack of rural fire hydrants, are also requiring sprinkler systems. Occupants of a house with a sprinkler system and working smoke detector have a 76% chance of surviving a fire in their home (see Figure 1, next page). While commercial sprinklers have been around for years, their response times are too slow for residential construction. It wasn't until 1979, as