Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Google Zeitgeist - Here's to 2013

from google

Sydney celebrates arrival of 2014 with spectacular fireworks

from telegraph.co.uk

Sydney sets off what the city said was its most extravagant New Year pyrotechnics display ever as midnight arrives in Australia

The Sydney Opera House and harbour bridge sparkled with tons of exploding fireworks unleashed at midnight as Australia was one of the first countries in the world to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.
Sydney officials had promised that the Australian city's renowned pyrotechnics show would be more extravagant than ever, with more than 1.6 million revellers expected to line the harbour for a view.
Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour at midnight, ushering in the new year (Reuters)
The fireworks were launched from four sails of the Sydney Opera House for the first time in more than a decade. The local council said the fireworks feature that erupted on the Sydney Harbour Bridge was twice the size of last year's centrepiece of the show.
But there is competition from around the world for the most dramatic event to mark the first moments of 2014, with Dubai aiming to create the world's largest fireworks show. Home to world's tallest tower, Dubai is known for its glitz, glamour and over-the-top achievements, and this New Year's Eve the city is planning to break another record by creating the largest fireworks show ever.
Organisers plan to light up the city's coastline with a flying falcon made out of fireworks that moves across a massive man-made palm-shaped island alongside a countdown in fireworks. They say they will also create a burst of light out of fireworks to imitate a sunrise and dazzle spectators with a United Arab Emirates flag that could also break records for being the largest ever made out of fireworks.
Fireworks explode off the Sydney Opera House at midnight, ushering in the new year (Reuters)
The six-minute extravaganza will include 500,000 fireworks from 400 firing locations, all synchronized by 100 computers from stations across the city, said Barrett Wissman, co-chairman of IMG Artists that is managing the event. Guinness World Record officials will be on hand to measure the scale of the event.
Wissman said the display will cover 30 miles (48 kilometers) of seafront. "It is really mind-blowing, the size of this," he said.
Beijing, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Singapore have hosted extravagant celebrations.
In Hong Kong, tens of thousands turned out to watch the fireworks display over the southern Chinese city's famed Victoria Harbour.
Pyrotechnics were fired off near the Kowloon peninsula and from the tops of seven skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island. A British colonial-era canon was be fired at midnight in a tradition dating from the end of the Second World War.
In the Philippines, more than 260 people were injured by firecracker blasts and celebratory gunfire ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations, one of Asia's most violent revelries.
Department of Health spokesman Dr Eric Tayag said he expected the number of injuries to rise sharply when Filipinos ignite powerful firecrackers to end a year marked by tragic disasters, including a Nov 8 typhoon that left more than 6,100 dead and nearly 1,800 others missing.
"Many here are welcoming the new year after losing their mothers, fathers, siblings and children so you can imagine how it feels," said village chief Maria Rosario Bactol of Anibong community in Tacloban, the city worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan. "I tell them to face the reality, to move on and stand up but I know it will never be easy."
China saw in the New Year with light shows at two spectacular and historic locations - part of the Great Wall near Beijing and at the Bund waterfront in Shanghai.
In Beijing, one flower shop manager said he hoped the new year brought more customers.
"Since the government started its campaign to crack down on luxury spending and promote frugality, our business with government agencies has been in decline," said Mao Xiangfei. "In the past, government clients accounted for about 10 percent of our business, but now it's zero."
But in one polluted Chinese city, the celebrations were slated to be quieter as authorities in Wuhan in central Hubei province called off their annual New Year fireworks show and banned fireworks downtown to avoid making the smoggy air worse.
In Japan, thousands of visitors, some donning kimonos, prayed, rang bells and tossed coins as offerings at shrines, wishing for health, wealth and happiness. Temple bells rang the customary 108 times, for the 108 causes of suffering according to Buddhism, and to welcome in the Year of the Horse.
Japanese are hopeful about the economy for the first time in years after some signs of revival under the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, whose easing lending policies and pump-priming measures have been dubbed "Abenomics."
Among those upbeat about what the new year might bring is Junya Sakata, a 23-year-old Tokyo waiter looking forward to taking sommelier classes next year so he can move up in his career.
"I hope the economy will keep improving, building up to the 2020 Olympics," he said, which will be held in Tokyo. "So many things happened this year, but I was able to grow. Maybe next year I will find a girlfriend."
Edited by David Wastell

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New York Times: No Al-Qaida Role in 2012 Benghazi Killings

from voanews.com

Burnt house, car inside U.S. embassy compound following overnight attack, Benghazi, Sept. 12, 2012.
Burnt house, car inside U.S. embassy compound following overnight attack, Benghazi, Sept. 12, 2012.
Kent Klein
An investigation by The New York Times newspaper has raised new questions about the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans on September 11, 2012.

The Times says it spent months talking to Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the assault on the U.S. consulate there and the circumstances surrounding it. None of the sources produced any evidence that al-Qaida was behind the rampage in which the angry mob killed the four Americans — including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

In the immediate aftermath, the Obama administration said the deaths were the result of an anti-West demonstration that got out of control.

At the time, Muslims around the world were angered by a crude video made in the United States that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad, and some news media reports said that the attack was organized by an al-Qaida-linked terrorist group.

The Obama administration came under harsh criticism from Republicans in Congress for the alleged failure to detect and prevent the attack, with many placing blame directly on then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

The paper's new investigation adds fuel to the largely partisan debate in Washington about the Obama administration's response to the killings, saying the attack was led by local fighters who had benefited from NATO support during the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

According to the paper, the assault was intensified in part by anger over the amateur video that was seen as insulting Islam. That finding appears to partially support a statement by then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, on a television talk show five days after the incident.

"We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people, came to the embassy ... to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo," she said in the 2012 television appearance. "And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists."

Some members of Congress, mostly opposition Republicans, charged that the assault was not a spontaneous reaction to the video, but a planned attack by terrorist groups, which was covered up by the White House.

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain questioned Susan Rice about the incident in the days that followed, and said they were not satisfied with her answers.

The debate intensified in the weeks before the November 2012 presidential election. President Barack Obama was said to have been considering appointing Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state in his second term, but as criticism mounted, Rice withdrew her name from consideration.

Meanwhile, Clinton responded angrily to tough questioning from senators about what happened in Benghazi.

CLICK TO EXPAND VIDEO - Clinton's Benghazi Testimony
"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans," she told legislators. "Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again"

According to The Times investigation, threats from local militants have multiplied throughout the Middle East, and the focus on battling al-Qaida may be distracting the United States from protecting its interests.

The report was released hours after the State Department said the Libyan government released four U.S. military personnel it had briefly detained.

A State Department spokeswoman said the four had been taken into custody near Sabratha, where they were participating in "security preparedness efforts."

David Kirkpatrick's report says the central figure in the September 11 attack in Benghazi was anti-Gadhafi militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala.

Monday, December 23, 2013

I love Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen is a bit of a nut. 

Not surprisingly, many of histories movers and shakers were considered nuts during their life. Galileo and Copernicus are  examples of this. Since his manic/depressive episode of a while back I have watched Charlie Sheen  with some interest. His appearance on Dr. Oz revealed his 'humanness'  to me. 

Knowing current day 'nuts' may be the foretelling of human progress yet unrealized I have watched this individual for the last few years.

The following story is a disappointment for me, because Charlie seems to want to be Politically Correct as he slams Phil, the leader of the 'Duck Dynasty' whom I had to ask my Tennessee nephew, Judge Rodgers, what in the hell was this 'Duck Dynasty".

Since 6th grade, through junior high school at Hawthorne Intermediate School, and four years at High School at Hawthorne High, in some cliques, I was known as Nigger Ozenne.  At York School it stung . It gave me the feeling I was not accepted by others who were "cool"   and 'white'.

In time, I realized that this was some sort of social power game, apparently to define social status within the larger social group.  Personally, I did not pay much attention for this derogatory moniker.  In time I told those who would torment me that they were simply envious of my smooth dark skin, and were simply jealous. 

Charlie has inspired this post because he is simply wrong about the 'Duck Dynasty'.

Put on your American Constitution pants Charlie, and realize that Phil, of Duck Dynasty  has his right to say things the way he see's them. 

Paula Dean admitted she had used the word 'nigger' describing her encounter with a gun wielding criminal. The 24/7 news media used this to destroy her commercial endeavors.

Cracker Barrel, the nationwide restaurant chain, immediately dropped Phil after learning about his article with GQ , Gentleman's Quarterly.  The profit advocates within this organization quickly determined that this might not be the best position to take on this issue and rescinded it.

So Charlie Sheen; lets try to give everyone a opportunity to express their true thoughts, without the burden of determining if this was politically correct.

I love Charlie Sheen. Let's get it together Charlie.

Merry Christmas.

Gary Ozenne

The star goes on a classic Sheen-style rant against the 'Duck Dynasty' patriarch.

The Duck Dynasty controversy continues.
Charlie Sheen is now slamming Phil Robertson for his anti-gay views. Sheen took to Twitter on Sunday to address the patriarch, who has been under fire for his anti-gay remarks.
"hey Mallard brained
Phil Robertso!
you have offended and hurt so many dear friends of mine,
who DO NOT have the voice or the outreach that I do. ....
your statements were and are
abhorrently and mendaciously unforgivable.
the idea that you have a job
outside of dirt-clod stackingis a miracle.
the only 'Dynasty' you are attached to might be the
re-runs of that dated show."
Meanwhile, Robertson, who issued a statement standing by what he said in GQ, is staying true to himself. The reality show star and church elder led a small Bible study group in his West Monroe, La., church on Sunday, and the MailOnline was there.
Robertson defended himself and declared, 'I will not give or back off from my path," reports the site. He also noted that this is not the "first time" he has given his views on sin. And he added, "I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater."
After his Bible study group, Robertson joined the rest of the congregation for a church service. Robertson's son, Alan, led part of the proceedings and made reference to the attention the family has been getting. "Well we've had a quite a quiet week, shot some ducks, done some shopping, ignited a national controversy," he said.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The state of American violence - December 2013

I certainly have no answers, but for some reason this latest event of American violence struck me harder than most of these mind numbing events of the last few months. 

The young 17 year old struck down by a fellow student who had apparently appraised his self worth as that of a dissed debate team member.  His real target of course  was the debate coach/teacher who had apparently let him go.  

Games involving the use of symbols (words) are always fun. When our young academics use their proficiency in using these words to self appraise their worthiness to society we must take pause.

Mr. Pierson was distraught that he had apparently been dropped from the team.

Colorado student, 17, wounded in school shooting dies

from reuters

DENVER Sat Dec 21, 2013 7:52pm EST

An Arapahoe high school student prays at the school in Centennial, Colorado December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
"Despite the best efforts of our physicians and nursing staff, and Claire's fighting spirit, her injuries were too severe and the most advanced medical treatments could not prevent this tragic loss of life," Littleton Adventist Hospital posted on the facility's official Facebook page.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman, Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Subprime Mortgage Loan Servicer Ocwen Agrees to $2.2 Billion Settlement

from nytimes

Offices of Ocwen Financial Corporation, the nation’s largest nonbank mortgage servicer, in West Palm Beach, Fla.Barbara P. Fernandez for The New York TimesOffices of Ocwen Financial Corporation, the nation’s largest nonbank mortgage servicer, in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Updated, 8:53 p.m. | A $2.2 billion agreement is settling accusations against a large but little known player in the mortgage industry that escaped last year’s sweeping mortgage settlement.
The Ocwen Financial Corporation, which has ridden its specialty in servicing subprime loans to become the fourth-largest mortgage servicer in the country, was accused of improperly handling the loans of homeowners after the financial crisis. The agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and 49 states covers similar ground to a $25 billion settlement made last year with the largest banks.
Ocwen was not included in the larger settlement because its nonbank status allowed it to slip through the cracks of the different regulatory agencies. The company, which is publicly traded, now falls under the oversight of the bureau, which began in 2011.
Ocwen has prided itself as a specialist at the tricky work of servicing mortgages, something the banks have struggled to do well. But the agreement announced Thursday, which still requires court approval, made it clear that Ocwen has had many of the same problems as those banks.

Article Tools

  • SAVE
Updated, 8:48 p.m. | “We believe that Ocwen violated federal consumer financial laws at every stage of the mortgage servicing process,” Richard Cordray, the director of the bureau, said in a conference call on Thursday.
The settlement covers several types of activities from 2009 to 2012 by Ocwen and two other companies it recently acquired, Litton Loan Servicing, which used to be owned by Goldman Sachs, and Homeward Residential Holdings.
The companies are accused of charging borrowers unauthorized fees, deceiving consumers about foreclosure alternatives and providing false or misleading information about the status of foreclosure proceedings. Mr. Cordray said that because of these violations, “Ocwen made troubled borrowers even more vulnerable to foreclosure.”
Ocwen did not have to admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The company said in a statement that the agreement “is in alignment with the same ultimate goals that we share with the regulators — to prevent foreclosures and help struggling families keep their homes.”
Ocwen, which was founded in 1988, does not issue mortgages itself. Instead, it buys the rights to service the loans issued by banks, taking a cut of all the payments it receives from homeowners. It also has to do the unpleasant work of dealing with homeowners who fall behind on their payments and eventually face foreclosure.
The company has expanded rapidly since the financial crisis and its business model has proved to be lucrative, pushing up its stock price 500 percent since 2009. On Thursday, its stock fell 1.9 percent after the settlement was announced.
Lisa Sitkin, a lawyer at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, said that Ocwen had been more efficient and orderly than many of the banks that service mortgages. The company also won a reputation for working with homeowners to make principal reductions for loans that were underwater. Ocwen says it has helped more than 280,000 families avoid foreclosure.
But Ms. Sitkin said that when something goes awry for a customer, Ocwen’s stripped-down operation, which helps its profits, can make the company difficult to communicate with.
“There’s a certain automated quality to all the interactions with them — it doesn’t feel as if someone is watching,” Ms. Sitkin said. “When anything goes wrong, which it does, it’s extremely difficult to unravel it.”
Ocwen said that it works “closely with many highly effective groups and are expanding our partnerships with housing advocacy and counseling groups across the country.”
The bulk of the money in the settlement, $2 billion, will go to principal reductions for people whose loans are serviced by Ocwen. The biggest banks agreed to do something similar last year, and it has proved to be controversial, with many complaints from homeowners who said that the banks had too much control over the process.
An additional $125 million will be divided among people whose homes were foreclosed on by Ocwen. The Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi, estimated that most homeowners would receive about $1,200.
A version of this article appears in print on 12/20/2013, on page B8 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Big Subprime Mortgage Loan Servicer Agrees to $2.2 Billion Settlement.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Judge: NSA’s collecting of phone records is probably unconstitutional

from washingtonpost.com

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency’s daily collection of virtually all Americans’ phone records is almost certainly unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon found that a lawsuit by Larry Klayman, a conservative legal activist, has “demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success” on the basis of Fourth Amendment privacy protections against unreasonable searches.
Read the document

Federal judge rules NSA program likely unconstitutional

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled Monday that a program that collects telephone metadata likely violates the Fourth Amendment.

Fine Print: A war on reform of military retirement benefits

Fine Print: A war on reform of military retirement benefits
The federal government is having a hard time finding a way to reduce military retiree benefits.

Ohio air base’s fate reflects battle to shape military

Ohio air base’s fate reflects battle to shape military
Dispute over cargo planes comes amid larger clash between active duty, Guard over military’s future.

Judge: NSA phone data collecting likely unconstitutional

Court grants request for a preliminary injunction on controversial program, but stays the action pending appeal.

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

Full coverage: NSA Secrets
Read all of the stories in The Washington Post’s ongoing coverage of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.
Leon granted the request for an injunction that blocks the collection of phone data for Klayman and a co-plaintiff and orders the government to destroy any of their records that have been gathered. But the judge stayed action on his ruling pending a government appeal, recognizing in his 68-page opinion the “significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues.”
“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” said Leon, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”
The strongly worded decision stands in contrast to the secret deliberations of 15 judges on the nation’s surveillance court, which hears only the government’s side of cases and since 2006 has held in a series of classified rulings that the program is lawful.It marks the first time a federal judge in open court has opined on the collection of lawfulness in a case not involving a criminal defendant.
A Justice Department spokesman, Andrew Ames, said Monday that the government was reviewing Leon’s decision. “We believe the program is constitutional as previous judges have found,” he said.
The challenge to the NSA’s once-classified collection of phone records is one of a series of cases filed in federal court since the program’s existence was revealed in June by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Snowden praised the ruling in a statement made to journalist Glenn Greenwald, who received NSA documents from Snowden and first reported on the program’s existence.
“I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” said Snowden, who has received temporary asylum in Russia, where he is seeking to avoid U.S. prosecution under the Espionage Act for leaking NSA documents. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”
The ruling also comes as Congress is debating whether to end the NSA’s “bulk” collection of phone data or endorse it in statute. The White House, U.S. officials say, supports maintaining the program.
“It will be very difficult for the administration to argue that the NSA’s call-tracking program should continue when a federal judge has found it to be unconstitutional,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has also sued the government over the program’s constitutionality.
But George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr said, “It gives opponents of the NSA program more fuel to add to the fire, but its legal impact is quite limited because the case now just goes to the court of appeals.”
The government has stressed that the program collects only “metadata,” such as numbers dialed and the times and lengths of calls, but no phone content or subscriber names. Officials say that only numbers linked to suspected terrorists are run against the database.
Leon’s opinion countered that the program is so sweeping — the database easily contains billions of records — that it amounts to a “dragnet” that intrudes on the constitutional expectation of privacy. He dismissed the government’s claim that “special needs” requiring quick access to data that could thwart a terrorist plot make a warrant impracticable. “No court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion,” he said.
The government’s legal justification for the call-tracking program is based on a 1979 case,Smith v. Maryland, involving the surveillance of a criminal suspect over a two-day period. In that case, the Supreme Court said that Americans have no expectation of privacy in the telephone metadata that companies hold as business records, and that therefore a warrant is not required to obtain such information. A succession of judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court have adopted the government’s argument based on that ruling.
But Leon said the question the Supreme Court confronted in 1979 is not the same as the one he was faced with. “Indeed, the question in this case can more properly be styled as follows: When do present-day circumstances — the evolutions in the government’s surveillance capabilities, citizens’ phone habits, and the relationship between the NSA and telecom companies — become so thoroughly unlike those considered by the Supreme Court thirty-four years ago, that a precedent like Smith does not apply?” he wrote. “The answer, unfortunately for the government, is now.”
Kerr said Leon is wrong to suggest that Smith no longer applies. That decision, he said, draws a clear distinction between the collection of data on numbers dialed and on call content. The metadata information the government is gathering today, Kerr said, is the same type of information the court said that law enforcement could collect more than 30 years ago. “The opinion is more valid now than it was,” Kerr said, adding that “it’s up to the Supreme Court to overturn its decision, not trial judges.”
Leon, who was nominated by President George W. Bush and appointed to the bench in 2002, said the government has played down the program’s invasiveness.
The “almost-Orwellian technology” that allows the government to collect, store and analyze phone metadata is “unlike anything that could have been conceived in 1979” and, “at best, the stuff of science fiction,” he said.
Klayman, founder of the public interest group Freedom Watch, called Leon’s ruling “courageous.”
“This is a warning to both parties that they'd better start observing the rule of law and protecting the American people or there will be severe consequences,” he said.
Meanwhile, Verizon Communications, named as a defendant, filed a motion Monday asking to be dismissed from the case. The request was based in part on a certification also filed Monday by the Justice Department that the company has immunity against lawsuits since it was compelled by a court order to comply with the government’s request for data. That immunity was authorized under a 2008 law known as the FISA Amendments Act.
In his ruling, Leon rejected the government’s argument that Klayman and a co-plaintiff — the father of an NSA cryptologist killed in Afghanistan in 2011 — lacked standing to bring the suit because they were customers of Verizon subsidiary Verizon Wireless, which has not been publicly revealed as taking part in the program.
“The government,” he said, says it has created a “comprehensive” database — “in which case, the NSA must have collected metadata from Verizon Wireless, the single largest wireless carrier in the United States.” Yet, at the same time, he wrote, the government asserts that the plaintiffs lack standing “based on the theoretical possibility” that the NSA has not collected Verizon’s records. “Candor of this type defies common sense and does not exactly inspire confidence!” he wrote.
To draw an analogy, he wrote, omitting Verizon Wireless, AT&T or Sprint “would be like omitting John, Paul and George” and building a “Ringo-only database.”
Greg Miller, Sari Horwitz, Julie Tate and Peter Wallsten contributed to this report.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Installing fire sprinkler systems - Angie Hicks

from poconorecord.com
December 14, 2013

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie's List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Follow her on Twitter at @Angie_Hicks. Distributed by MCT Information Services

If you really want to keep your home and the people and property in it as safe as possible from fire, consider a residential sprinkler system.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of FEMA, fire sprinklers inside a home reduce the chance of fire death by 80 percent and cut the likelihood of property damage by 71 percent.
Industry experts and fire control and prevention pros say sprinklers are a good idea for all homes, whether new or existing, and should be used in combination with smoke detectors.
Across the United States, hundreds of municipalities as well as California and Maryland require that new residential construction include fire sprinklers. However, newly proposed mandates generally face strong opposition from home building organizations, in large part because they add to the cost and complexity of building. To find out if your locality mandates sprinklers, contact your state fire marshal's office.
While interviewing consumers, highly rated sprinkler installers and experts on fire control and prevention, including the National Fire Protection Association, our research staff learned that many homeowners have misconceptions about home sprinkler systems:
Perception: Every sprinkler in the house will go off at once. The reality, experts say, is that only the heads that detect fire will activate. Usually, one head will extinguish a blaze before it spreads.
Perception: Sprinkler systems are unattractive. The reality, experts say, is that the heads stay flush against the wall or ceiling until deployed, so they don't greatly affect home aesthetics. A single sprinkler head can cover from 144 to 200 square feet.
According to the NFPA, the cost of a fire sprinkler system, installed, has dropped from an average $1.61 per square foot in 2008 to $1.35 in 2013. The association says the decline is due to government mandates, which increase the number of contractors doing the work. In some parts of California, according to the NFPA, the cost is less than $1 a square foot.
The actual price can vary widely by region. One Chicago-area homeowner, whose town of Libertyville, Ill., requires a fire sprinklers in new construction, paid about $12,000 to have a sprinkler system included in a home built in 2007.
The NFPA doesn't maintain statistics about installing sprinklers in existing homes. However, additional work to cut walls and update existing plumbing means the cost is likely higher than for new construction. One state fire marshal told our team that he retrofitted his 2,400-square-foot home with sprinklers for $3,500.
According to the USFA, homeowners who have sprinklers should expect a discount of 5 to 15 percent on their home insurance.
Experts recommend that fire sprinkler systems should be regularly maintained. This includes checking to make sure that sprinklers aren't blocked, annually opening the drain valve to be sure water flows freely, and arranging an annual inspection by a licensed plumber to be sure the system's backflow prevention device is working correctly.
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie's List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Follow her on Twitter at @Angie_Hicks. Distributed by MCT Information Services