Connecticut Lawmakers Move to Limit Town Code Setting Authority

A committee of the Connecticut legislature has unanimously passed a measure that would prohibit towns in the state from enforcing code requirements stricter than the statewide building code, according to a report in the Waterbury Republican-American (“ Building code legislation passes through committee”). The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities opposes the legislation, reports the paper, arguing that “state standards should be the floor, not the ceiling.” The Home Builders Association of Connecticut strongly supports the bill, the paper said. The tug-of-war over town code enforcement is likely related to a state-level battle over fire sprinklers. The state Codes and Standards Committee has not yet made a final decision about fire sprinkler requirements in the next version of the building code, but a subcommittee has decided to delete the IRC requirement for sprinklers, according to the Residential Fire Sprinklers page on the Connecticut Home Builders Association website: “The CT Code Amendment Subcommittee (CAS) voted 11-2 on October 13, 2010, to exclude the mandatory fire sprinkler section from the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), which covers 1 & 2 family home construction. The CAS reports to the full CT Codes & Standards Committee, which can adopt or reject the CAS vote.” But the state legislature is considering a bill that would mandate sprinklers by law, reports the Hartford Courant (“ Fire Marshals Builders At Odds Over Bill To Require Sprinklers In New Homes,” by Daniela Altimari). If the bill fails and if code authorities also remove the sprinkler requirement when adopting the new model code, then a law limiting local adoption of the tougher rule would close off the last remaining avenue for firefighters, or the sprinkler industry, to push the requirement.