Stephen England’s Remarks to Commissioners on Residential Sprinkler Moratorium at Public Hearing on Jan. 4th, 2011.
I am here to speak tonight regarding my opposition to this sprinkler ordinance. We’ve heard from those who support the ordinance, including those members of our volunteer firefighters and I would like to thank those gentlemen for their service to our community.
However, the issue at hand is not one of safety. It is not even an issue of the cost of installation and the resultant negative impact upon our local economy. The issue here is one of freedom and the role of government in our day-to-day lives. We are not here tonight to discuss the efficacy of sprinklers, but rather the ability of our county government to mandate those sprinklers in private homes.
How often have we heard the very same thing we’ve been told tonight—that we must accept the latest governmental fiat because it’s “for our own good”? And how often have we accepted it, because honestly, who wouldn’t like to eliminate risk from their life? I’m sorry to say, it can’t be done. Kids drown every year in the bathtub, so what should we do? Ban them?
Living itself is calculated risk in every action—and it is up to each and every one of us to decide what risks to take. No one can decide that for you—and no one should try. Not your best friend, not your neighbor, and most certainly not your government.
I would ask our commissioners here tonight one question. The people of this county elected you. Do you now believe them so incompetent that they cannot decide questions of their own safety?
Because that’s what this is. I stand here tonight for myself, and no other—but I believe my fellow citizens to be as competent of deciding their own fate as I am. And in the years ahead, I plan to fight against the reelection of anyone who continues to support this egregious ordinance.