I find a couple of things disturbing about the decision by the International Code Council to require sprinklers in new homes (In the News, 12/08). First and simplest is the apparent lack of facts involved. Sure, sprinklers will save lives, but how many and at what cost?

It’s a cold calculus, but there is an accepted value to a life: more if you’re rich, less if you’re poor. Consider the payouts from the World Trade Center settlement. One commonly accepted average figure is $5 million per life. Based on the average cost of a residential sprinkler system cited in the article, $1.61 per square foot, a cost of...

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