Appeals court rejects Minnesota sprinkler rule

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has invalidated a state requirement for fire sprinklers in new homes larger than 4,500 square feet.

In a ruling issued Tuesday (pdf), the court said the sprinkler rule is “arbitrary and not supported by substantial evidence.”

The three judges were unanimous in their decision, which was the result of a lawsuit by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities against the state Department of Labor and Industry.

The association’s executive director, David Siegel, described the court decision as a victory for Minnesotans looking to buy a home.

“The sprinkler mandate was unnecessarily impacting the housing market and home ownership access for thousands of Minnesotans,” Siegel said.

State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, also praised the court action, calling it “a victory for common sense.” Garofalo, who chairs the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability, criticized Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration for implementing the requirement.

“I'm grateful to the courts for once again giving the executive branch a reminder that things like this should be done through legislation rather than abusing agency rulemaking authority." Garofalo said.

Dayton, a supporter of the sprinkler requirement, said he couldn’t comprehend the court’s conclusion.

“This was always about protecting firefighters,” Dayton said. “Firefighters go into burning buildings, and they’re risking their lives. If somebody can afford to build a 4,500 square foot home or greater than that, they can afford to put in the safety that’s going to protect them.”

Dayton said he plans to review the court’s decision and discuss possible options with the state Attorney General.

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