Fire sprinkler mandates will be part of the 2009 International Residential Code and will be required in all one- and two-family homes and townhouses that build to the code as of Jan. 1, 2011.

The sudden - and controversial - arrival of 900 fire officials eligible to vote at the International Code Council's final action hearings in Minneapolis swelled the number of sprinkler proponents and the measure was approved by a vote of 1,283 to 470.

The residential fire sprinkler mandates will provide a sizable financial boon for the fire sprinkler manufacturing industry, which, like NAHB, helped provide funding for building officials to attend the hearings.

NAHB had identified several concerns over residential fire sprinkler systems - among them, questioning whether most homeowners are prepared to perform the maintenance required to ensure that the sprinklers remain operational.

The American Fire Sprinkler Association and the National Fire Sprinkler Association offer training programs for residential sprinkler installation and certification. Because there are only a limited number of subcontractors who are certified, the sprinkler requirement will appear in the 2009 International Residential Code but not take effect until 2011, giving the industry three years to prepare.