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A bill authored by Minnesota Senator Rich Draheim aimed at "creating more affordable housing" would weaken a current state requirement for residential fire sprinklers. 

 

The bill, which recently passed a Senate vote, would exempt two-unit townhomes from requiring fire sprinklers. "We have to start looking at ways to reduce construction costs so it’s easier for people to buy a home in Minnesota," Draheim said in a statement appearing on the Minnesota State Republican Caucus website. 

 

However, safety advocates argue those cost-cutting measures should not be implemented at the expense of placing residents' lives at greater risk of fire death and injury. While downplaying the necessity of fire sprinklers in a recent news story, Draheim also stated that other home safety measures--hardwired smoke alarms and double fire walls--might be addressed in future bills. 

 

"If you can't, under good conditions, blindfold yourself and get out of your house at 2:30 in the morning, and get your family out in less than 3 minutes, you're never going to do it with smoke and fire," said burn survivor and fire sprinkler advocate Rob Feeney, who spoke to more than 240 firefighters at a recent event in Minnesota.

 

State data also underscores the necessity of maintaining--and bolstering--any law requiring residential sprinklers. Data from the State Fire Marshal's Office highlighted by a local ABC affiliate indicates that there have been more than 900 "sprinkler saves" in the state between 2004 and 2016. Furthermore, sprinklers in new dwellings could have an impact in reducing the state's nearly 50 fire deaths each year. 

 

Draheim's bill now heads to the desk of Governor Mark Dayton, who has vetoed anti-sprinkler bills in the past.  

 

ACT NOW: Please tell Governor Mark Dayton you support maintaining Minnesota's current sprinkler requirement. Please tweet him at @GovMarkDayton or contact his office.

The Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition was awarded the 2016 Bringing Safety Home Fire Sprinkler Initiative Grant. The grant was primarily used for audio/visual equipment intended for use at trade shows to help endorse home fire sprinklers. The most notable trade shows were the Milwaukee Metropolitan Builders Show and the Madison Building Show, which targeted builders and individuals interested in home-related equipment.

 

Additionally, the grant supported presentations to the fire service. It will also be used for future presentations at the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association spring and annual conference. Also, the grant will fund a fire sprinkler summit taking place in May. (Registration for the event is now open.) The summit will target fire service personnel, municipal leaders, architects, developers, and building officials.

 

For more information on the Wisconsin coalition, the summit, other winners, and the grant, download the grant report.

Talk about a perfect pitch. 

 

All it took for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando to fire sprinkler its first home was a phone call by Floridian fire service members. "It all started with a phone call about a concept to put fire sprinklers into Habitat for Humanity homes," says Chief Otto Drozd III with Orange County Fire Rescue (OCFR) in a new video appearing on the Orange County Government's website. 

 

While safeguarding the new homeowners from the threats of fire, the installation was also an effective, public education tactic; while at the scene of the installation, members of OCFR underscored the necessity of fire sprinklers to audiences likely unfamiliar with this technology. "The particular fire sprinkler system for this home was designed specifically to give residents more time to escape a fire by better controlling it,” said Orange County Fire Marshal Bruce Faust, an active member of the Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition. “The system acts as a second line of defense after the smoke alarm to provide added security and safety.”

 

Faust adds that the installation isn't intended to be a one-off; OCFR's aim is to work with Habitat to fire sprinkler all of the organization's new homes going forward. “If we can do this, we will have a positive impact and reduce fire deaths in the community," says Faust. "It’s really a simple narrative: Sprinklers mean survival.”

 

This isn't the first time the Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition has used unconventional tactics to promote home fire sprinklers; the group recently launched a public education campaign on this technology, tasking advocates to take a #sprinklerselfie and share it on social media. 

 


Watch this video underscoring this installation (check out the blown-up Fire Sprinkler Initiative infographic in video). Also, consider pitching sprinklers to your local Habitat for Humanity chapter. If you need help, let us know.

 

In case you missed it, NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative hosted a live webcast featuring three members of its Faces of Fire Campaign. Launched in 2010, the campaign humanizes the horrors, loss, and resiliency of people impacted by home fires and underscores how home fire sprinklers play a part in reducing fire deaths and injuries.

Please watch the following snippet featuring burn survivor Princella Lee Bridges, former fire chief Jeff Hudson, and Meredith Hawes, a former fire/life safety educator and now one of NFPA's regional education specialists. As instructed in this video, click on the link at the end to view the full webcast. You will need to login into Xchange to view. If you aren't signed up, don't worry--it's free and easy. 

 


The Utah Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition was one of the recipients of the 2016 Bringing Safety Home Fire Sprinkler Initiative Grant. The coalition used the grant to host a summit for the real estate and insurance industries with the goal to educate them on the importance of home fire sprinklers. The summit had more than 70 attendees.

 

The summit featured a live-burn/fire sprinkler demonstration and presentations from the coalition’s current and former chairs. Following the demo, there was a discussion that resulted in the request of similar events in the future. The coalition anticipates hosting these events a few times a year.


For more information on the Utah coalition, the summit, other winners, and the grant, download the grant report.

 

Here are some more photos of the event. 

 

A behind-the-scenes look at a home fire sprinkler. Photo: Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition

 

Canada's King Township is considered one of the country's "fastest growing municipalities." With this development boom has come increased concerns for fire from the township's mayor, Steve Pellegrini. 

 

"Home fire sprinkler technology has been available for a long time," he told a local news outlet. "We require it elsewhere but not in our houses, which I think is wrong."

 

Pellegrini would like local homebuilders to make a bigger push for this technology. Along with ceramic flooring and other amenities, this group, he says, should promote sprinklers as a necessary addition with life-saving capabilities. Responding to Pelligrini's push, the Ontario Association of Home Builders told the news outlet that residents "balk" at "long-term maintenance responsibilities" of fire sprinklers. 


In actuality, home fire sprinklers require very little maintenance and aren't required to have annual inspections by an outside professional. Here are some helpful tips from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition:

 

  • Fire sprinklers require almost no maintenance and only work when you need them
  • Do a simple flow test about twice a year
  • Occasionally do a visual inspection of the controls and sprinklers
  • Use a padlock to keep the water valve in the "on" position
  • Teach your children they are not toys and should not be played with
  • NEVER hang anything on the sprinklers, even temporarily
  • Do not paint the sprinklers. And if you hire painters, make sure they know not to paint them
  • Don’t block the sprinklers with furniture or fabrics. If the spray is blocked the sprinkler cannot put out a fire
  • Most important, don't worry. Sprinklers are not complicated

In a story underscoring home fire sprinklers, a local homebuilding association has provided inaccurate information about today's home fire problem. 

 

“Since 1991 when the construction code began requiring interconnected, hardwired, battery back-up smoke detectors there have been zero residential deaths in new construction,” Remi Stone, executive director of the Builders Association of Minnesota, told a CBS affiliate. “At best, mandating sprinkler systems in new homes is redundant.”

 

Stone's statement is inaccurate. Within the past few years, NFPA has been alerted to at least two fires in "new homes" that have resulted in child fire deaths. Last year, a six-year-old girl died from fire in a Connecticut home built months before her death. In 2015, another child, Nora Lamirande, died in one of New York's new homes. These fires occurred in homes built after 2009, when a requirement to fire sprinkler new homes made it into all U.S. model building codes. Had these states required fire sprinklers instead of taking steps that ultimately prohibited this requirement in new homes, these lives may have been saved. Home fire sprinklers also have the power to eventually reduce the approximately 2,500 deaths occurring each year in the U.S. 

 

These incidents underscore the fact that no matter the age of a home, fire kills. Safety advocates can provide facts about how today’s homes burn and the fire risks associated with new homes. 

 

"Newer homes don't burn" is one of the persistent myths that we as fire sprinkler advocates need to counter. Please share this story on social media and help us spread the message that home fire sprinklers are a necessity in all new construction.

The Texas Fire Sprinkler Coalition was awarded $10,000 via NFPA’s 2016 Fire Sprinkler Initiative Bringing Safety Home Grant. The grant was used to construct a side-by-side burn demonstration trailer. With help of a local sprinkler contractor, American Fire Systems, the coalition built the trailer exclusively with the grant, and saved about $10,000 in the process.

 

The trailer was completed last year and used shortly thereafter for a test burn and demonstrations at the state’s fire training field. The trailer also traveled to Louisiana for a demonstration with the State Fire Marshal.

 

The coalition plans to take the trailer to College Station and Austin this year and hopes to build more units in the future.

 

For more information on the Texas coalition, other winners, and the grant, download the grant report. Also, watch this 360-degree video of a recent live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration:

 

Following a story appearing in the Kansas City Star underscoring the deadly effects of banning home fire sprinkler requirements, the paper's editorial board has offered pointed remarks in support of this technology.

 

"There should be no debate," states the board's op-ed. "If sprinklers were installed as a part of new home construction — as standard as doorbells and kitchen sinks — lives would be saved."

 

Arguments against these requirements, mainly from the homebuilding industry, point to overexaggerated installation costs. True cost estimates, states the op-ed, would make it unlikely for someone to be priced out of a home. As for the argument against the necessity of additional governmental regulations, the board poses this question: "Are we really going to quibble about a relatively simple design that is guaranteed to save lives?"

 

Missouri and Kansas, states in the publication's coverage area, have laws prohibiting cities from enacting their own sprinkler regulations, which "says more about the power of lobbyists than common sense." Read the complete op-ed by the editorial board. 

 

Create your own letter to the editor or op-ed in support of home fire sprinklers. Use these 10 tips. 

Imagine the exposure for home fire sprinklers if all Realtors made them as coveted a feature in new homes as granite countertops or hardwood floors. An article recently appearing on Realtor.com places this technology in the limelight, highlighting fire sprinkler cost, operation, and minimal maintenance.

 

"As more folks are educated about the life-saving value [of home fire sprinklers], we are seeing more homes including them," Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Outeach and Advocacy and president of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), told Realtor.com. "Home fire sprinklers are one of the best ways to protect you and your family in the event of a blaze."


The article underscores water pressure needed for fire sprinklers, the heat sensitivity of a sprinkler's glass tube, and general maintenance homeowners can do on their own. Demystifying this technology to agents in the business of selling homes can help them make them a more attractive feature for potential homebuyers.

 


Please watch/share this important video created by HFSC for Realtors. HFSC also produces free, informational pamphlets for this group.

 

 

 

The South Dakota Fire Sprinkler Coalition was a 2016 recipient of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative Bringing Safety Home Grant. The coalition was awarded $5,000, which was used to produce print advertisements and banners aimed at increasing awareness on the importance of home fire sprinklers.

 

A full-page print advertisement ran in the South Dakota Firefighter. The ad (above) targeted volunteer firefighters, and the goal was to help bring awareness to fire sprinklers and the coalition. A statewide sprinkler installation company actually saw the ad, and contacted the coalition. The two are currently in discussions about a potential collaboration. In addition, the coalition will submit an article to the magazine every other month to continue educating readers about home sprinklers. 

 

Advertisements were also designed to promote live burn demonstrations in Sioux Falls and at the Central States Fair. Additionally, the coalition worked with a designer to create travel banners placed in high traffic areas.

 

For more information on the South Dakota coalition, other winners, and the grant, download the grant report.

The NFPA in Canada has had a number of inquiries of late about the Home Fire Sprinkler Initiative. Specifically about the availability of Canadian home fire sprinkler information and the Faces of Fire campaign.

 

About Canadian home fire sprinkler information

With regard to the availability of Canadian home fire sprinkler information… The Canadian Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition has launched a new web site!

Please take time to visit the new site at https://homefiresprinklercanada.ca, and have a look at the attached News Release from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, CASA and the Cooperators Insurance… please feel free to share as broadly as possible.

 

About Faces of Fire Campaign

The Faces of Fire campaign presents the stories of burn survivors whose lives have been forever altered; fire service members with career-ending injuries; homeowners that have lost everything; and how sprinklers could have significantly impacted these outcomes. Adding to these stories of loss are examples of homeowners saved by sprinklers and homebuilders who have embraced sprinklers as the ultimate in homeowner safety.  

 

NFPA is hosting an online chat with some of the Faces of Fire subjects next Wednesday (April 12, 2017).  

 

While we won’t be interviewing any Canadians on this session, the online forum should be an interesting one, since attendees will be able to ask our subjects anything they’d like about their stories and sprinkler advocacy. 

 

If you or any of your stakeholders may have an interest please join us and, as above, please feel free to share this information freely.

 

Registration is easy by going to this link

http://app.webinarsonair.com/register/?uuid=b3432a8f49404ac086f3fe942c401612

 

Thanks and hopefully you can get a chance to visit the new website, and join in on April 12, 2017 between 12:30 and 1:30 (EDT)

 

Shayne

Former Fire Chief Jeffery Hudson knows that if fire sprinklers had been in place when his crews responded to a 2010 home fire, he would not have lost a devoted firefighter, friend, and brother in the fire service.

 

John Glaser, 33, a six-year veteran of the Shawnee, Kansas, Fire Department, was among the first two crews to arrive at the scene. He entered the home, spotted the family's dog, and immediately brought the animal to safety. Upon reentry to continue search-and-rescue operations, Glaser called for help.

 

“We knew at that point that his mask was off, because the call came in too clear,” Hudson says.


In the time it took firefighters to find Glaser after a mayday was called, carbon monoxide rose to a level too great for Glaser to survive. He was Shawnee's first line-of-duty firefighter death. He left behind a wife and two children. 

 

"It took several crews a good hour to get the fire under control, leaving the family with no home and us to bury one of our own," says Hudson, one of NFPA's Faces of Fire. The campaign underscores the human toll of home fires. 

 

How did this fire impact Hudson, and what has he been up since being profiled for the Faces of Fire Campaign? Find out by registering for our Faces of Fire: Where Are They Now? online chat on Wednesday, April 12, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EST. You'll have the chance to interact with Hudson and other members of this campaign. Take 30 seconds and register today.

The site of a home fire that killed a six-year-old resident of Plainfield, Connecticut, in 2016 (Photo: Hartford Courant)

 

An article recently appearing in the Kansas City Star underscores the deadly effects of prohibiting the installation of fire sprinklers in new homes. The article points to two home fires in Connecticut and New York leading to two child deaths. Had these homes followed U.S. model building code requirements, the outcomes may have been different, since the homes would have been required to include fire sprinklers. 

 

Instead, Connecticut decision makers have prohibited the state and local towns from adopting fire sprinkler requirements. Similarly, New York, minus a few exceptions, bars local towns from making fire sprinklers mandatory in new homes. (Visit NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative website for a roundup of states prohibiting sprinkler requirements.) Last year, a six-year-old girl died from fire in a Connecticut home built months before her death. In 2015, another child, Nora Lamirande, died in one of New York's new homes.

 

"If we are going to impact the number of fire deaths in this country, we have to get sprinklers built into these homes," Jeff Hudson, one of NFPA's regional sprinkler specialists, told the paper. 

 

While typically supporting homeowners' decisions to sprinkler their homes, local homebuilding associations stop short in praising fire sprinkler requirements, citing affordability and fire safeguards already in place. (NFPA has developed counterpoints to their arguments.

 

"Almost all fire deaths at home are preventable through the use of sprinklers and smoke alarms," Jeff Shapiro, executive director of the International Residential Code Fire Sprinkler Coalition, told the Kansas City Star. "Those who make the decision not to install that equipment in their home are indirectly responsible for any issues that occur in the future of that home." 

 


Read the full article for additional insights on the dangers of prohibiting fire sprinkler requirements. 

Even though Maryland has a statewide requirement for home fire sprinklers, safety advocates there understand the need to keep this technology in the limelight. 

 

Last month, a toddler died from a fire in an unsprinklered home in Taneytown, Maryland. News reports state that the fire originated in the attic, where another toddler was able to escape. "This is a classic example of had this been a home with fire sprinklers, this would be a non-event, because the sprinklers would have activated at the early onset of the fire and would have saved that child's life," Deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce Bouch told an ABC affiliate.

 

Despite the proven, life-saving capability of fire sprinklers, this technology was challenged last year in Maryland, when legislation was introduced to weaken the requirement. Keeping sprinklers (literally) in front of the media via a series of live burn/sprinkler demonstrations, statements similar to Bouch's to reporters, and public events helped kill the bill. Advocacy is proven to be just as effective in convincing decision makers to pass fire sprinkler requirements. 

 

Learn more about Maryland's advocacy tactics, and see what you can mimic in your region. 

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