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It's not everyday you hear about a homebuilder having positive things to say about home fire sprinklers. However, that's exactly what happened following an installation in Boxford, Massachusetts. 

 

An article appearing in Sprinkler Age, the magazine for the American Fire Sprinkler Association, highlights a couple who wanted to create a home that was as fire-safe as possible. All homes, according to the article, have their own well, since there is no town water supply. That's why the home is equipped with a tank-and-pump system. "The homeowners and I discussed installing fire sprinklers right out of the gate," Steve Howell with Howell Custom Builders told the magazine. He adds that the home's quarter-mile-long driveway with a 120-foot rise would have been challenging for the fire service to access in the event of a fire. 

 

Boxford's Fire Chief Brian Geiger says his department always emphasizes fire prevention and role fire sprinklers play in reducing fire risks. "We spend a lot of time in homes making sure everything is to code, especially these systems," Geiger told the magazine. "We know that fire sprinklers give a homeowner the extra time needed to get out of a burning home, and that saves lives. In a town with no town water, no hydrants, and a call fire department, this team approach to fire safety is very important."

 

Read the full article appearing in Sprinkler Age (starting on page 55). 

During the recent groundbreaking, Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating joined Paul Skarinka and his wife, Jenn, at the site of their new home

 

Corporal Paul Skarinka was eight months into his first tour of duty with the U.S. Army when his unit came under enemy fire while on a mission outside of Baghdad in 2014. During a rocket-propelled grenade explosion, Skarinka suffered a severed artery and serious damage to his left arm and leg. He was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, where he underwent 22 surgeries, including the amputation of his left leg below the knee and partial amputation of his left arm.

 

Living with his wife and two children in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Skarinka continues to serve his community, obtaining his EMT/paramedic license to assist with the Plympton Fire Department and Brewster Ambulance Service. Still, his battle injuries remain a daily issue. Though he and his wife own their home, it is not handicap accessible or conducive to his needs as a recent amputee. 

 

Thanks to efforts by Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors, Skarinka is relocating to a home in Hanson, Massachusetts, that better suits his needs. Groundbreaking begun this week on the home, which will also included home fire sprinklers. The Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition was able to secure the labor and materials to install the fire sprinklers at no cost. The wounded warriors organization, which raises money to build and remodel handicap accessible homes for veterans injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, makes a point to sprinkler all of its new homes. 

 

Are there similar organizations in your region that might benefit from a similar partnership?

In the parking lot of Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, a demonstration offered a reminder of the fire dangers lurking inside your home. 

 

Hosted by the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Prevention Association of Massachusetts, the live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration showed the large crowd at the Foxborough stadium the reason why new homes  need this technology. 

 

“Quite frankly, sprinklers buy time, and time buys life,” Dave LaFond, a regional manager for the National Fire Sprinkler Association and member of the Massachusetts coalition, told a local NBC station.

 

The news story included statements against sprinklers from the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts. The group claims hardwired smoke alarms alone are the best defense against fire in new homes. Learn how to counter this claim via the facts found on NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

 

The event coincided with the 500tmeeting of the Fire Prevention Association of Massachusetts.

Angie's List, the company that links its members with user-generated reviews of local businesses, has been a vocal advocate for home fire sprinklers. NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team has come across a series of articles over the years in which the company supports the use of this technology. 

 

Here's another one, in which Angie herself--Angie Hicks, the company's founder, to be exact--has a few positive things to say about fire sprinklers. "Sprinkler systems are proven to save lives, and we're seeing more and more of them being installed in homes and they're becoming more affordable," she states in an article that appeared on MyWabashValley.com. In fact, a handful of states even require sprinkler systems under certain conditions in homes."

 

The story includes pro-sprinkler statements from fire sprinkler industry and fire service professionals. 



Check out our case studies page highlighting communities that agree with Angie and have either embraced fire sprinklers in their new homes or a fire sprinkler ordinance.

During Fire Prevention Week (FPW), the Downers Grove Fire Department is hosting a "night at the firehouse" to underscore the necessity of home fire sprinklers. Via a live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration and thermal imaging equipment, the public will see firsthand how hot fire can get inside a home. 

 

If you're planning your own event around FPW, make sure you have giveaways or visuals on hand. Giving attendees something to take home or capture with their smartphone will ensure they have literature to review or share with additional people after your event. Some ideas:

 

 

If you're hosting an event and featuring fire sprinklers, let us know. Email the Fire Sprinkler Initiative team, and we'll share your efforts with our national audience!

In case you missed it, we're giving you the chance to view NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative's latest webinar. If you're new to fire sprinkler advocacy or want to better your efforts, please watch "Five Steps to Better Advocate for Home Fire Sprinklers." We outline steps to get energized and active in the push for fire sprinkler requirements across North America. 

 

Please watch the following teaser clip. You will need to register to NFPA's Xchange to watch the full webinar. If you haven't registered yet, it's free and easy to do.

 

In our latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, you’ll read about our upcoming podcast series, “The Survivors,” that gives an all-encompassing look at the lingering effects of American home fires. Podcast episodes will be released at the end of October. 

 

There’s also stories on:

• a fire sprinkler advocate taking on a sprinkler opponent
• one week, two tragedies avoided thanks to fire sprinklers
• who’s permitted to install home fire sprinklers

 

Not receiving this newsletter directly in your inbox? Register to receive it and stay on top of fire sprinkler news across North America.  

A new law in Wales went into effect in January, requiring fire sprinklers in all new homes. Wales is the first country in the world to pass such a requirement. 

 

However, homebuilders there have spent little time trying to avoid the new requirement. According to a recent story that appeared on Wales Online, this industry might be able to avoid sprinklering  a number of homes due to a loophole. A government official told the news outlet that some homebuilders pre-registered for some of the building sites before 2016, "which meant they locked themselves into an earlier set of building regulations."

 

"My understanding is that there are many thousands of homes that are yet to be built that have effectively circumnavigated the sprinkler measures," Wales Online reported Cabinet Secretary Carl Sargeant saying during an assembly committee meeting. "My personal view is that is inappropriate. We'd had discussions about how and if we can close that loophole."

 

As is the case in North America, Welsh builders tend to balk at fire sprinkler requirements, questioning its cost-effectiveness and claiming these laws stunt the housing market. The cost and the housing issue in the U.S. have both been countered by research. 

 

A staunch advocate for this requirement is Ann Jones; this Welsh legislator played an influential role in passing the country's sprinkler law. 

Fire Marshal Randy Miller (second from right) stopped by NFPA's booth during AFSA's convention in Las Vegas. From left: Jeff Hudson, NFPA; Lorraine Carli, NFPA; and Peg Paul with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition

 

During the American Fire Sprinkler Association's (AFSA) recent Convention, Exhibition, and Apprentice Competition, a Washington Fire Marshal received well-deserved praise for his actions leading to his town's fire sprinkler ordinance. 

 

Randy Miller was named "advocate of the year," an annual recognition presented by AFSA honoring efforts to advance the use of automatic sprinklers by people not directly involved in the fire sprinkler industry. Nearly 15 years ago, Miller, now deputy fire marshal with the Camas-Washougal Fire Department, pushed for a residential sprinkler ordinance in his town. The opposition was swift and severe. "The building industry came out in droves," Miller told AFSA in a recent article appearing in its Sprinkler Age magazine. 

 

Miller and his colleagues then decided to initiate conversations with local builders and developers to discuss ways fire sprinklers can address building challenges. “We came up with compromises,” Miller told AFSA. “We told them, you can have narrower streets in your subdivision, if you sprinkler it. You can have one way in, if you sprinkler it. You can have a gated community, if you sprinkler it. You can have steeper slopes or longer dead end roads or less hydrants, but you have to sprinkler the entire subdivision.” Known as trade ups, these compromises can be key pitches to builders.

 

The fruits of Miller's labor are astounding; 98 percent of homes in Camas and Washougal had sprinkler protection prior to the ordinance, making the 2016 passage all that easier. 

 

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team got the chance to congratulate Randy in person at the event. Congrats again, Randy!

We recently reported on this blog a fire occurring inside a home where a grandmother lived with a couple and their two-year-old daughter. The grandmother was home alone at the time of the fire but escaped without injury following the activation of the home’s fire sprinklers.


The local fire service credited the sprinklers for preventing any injury or loss of life. A new editorial appearing in The Baltimore Sun also lauded this technology following the sprinkler save, stating that disputing the value of sprinklers is “befuddling.”


“There’s no rational explanation for opposing them,” states the editorial. “Having water running throughout the building just waiting to spring into action putting out a fire, on the off chance one might occur, sounds like a great idea."

 
While the editorial addresses water damage from a sprinkler activation (the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition notes water from a fire hose uses eight-and-a-half times more water than fire sprinklers to fight a fire), it fully supports its life-saving ability.


“Let’s not forget that whenever someone questions the need for a fire suppression sprinkler system,” it states. “Contents and things can be replaced. A life cannot be replaced, and all lives matter.”

Residential fire sprinklers have been spotlighted twice in a week's span, thanks to two news outlets promoting two activations on opposite sides of the U.S. 

 

The first occurred on September 19 in Abingdon, Maryland. According to a news report by The Baltimore Sun, a grandmother who shared the home with three other family members was home alone when she began hearing strange sounds. Upon investigating the noise, she discovered smoke coming from the second floor. A fire had originated in a bedroom, and fire sprinklers contained the fire to that room. 

 

"Deputy state fire marshals credit the fire sprinkler for containing the fire and allowing [the resident] to safely escape," states the story. "Fire sprinklers also help firefighters by containing the fire to the area of origin, reducing the chance of injuries and/or death."

 

Two days later, another residential fire occurred, this time in Portland, Oregon. By the time Portland Fire and Rescue arrived at the scene, they discovered that the residence's fire sprinklers had extinguished the fire. Thanks to the fire sprinklers, there was minimal damage, mainly to the fire's room of origin, stated KATU.

 

Many thanks to the fire service officials who alerted the media to these activations, and for these news outlets for sharing it with the public. If a fire sprinkler activates in your area, please alert the media.

Tip of the hat to Paul Eichler, chair of the Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition, for setting the record straight on home fire sprinklers. Following a letter to the editor in which Eichler promoted the importance of fire sprinkler requirements, a reader responded with less-than-flattering statements about requiring this technology. 

 

The reader questioned sprinkler installation costs and doubted the necessity of these systems. "I lived in dormitories and apartments for years, none of them ever burned down," she stated. "The only fires I knew of were from careless smoking, cooking and unattended irons. The fire alarms were adequate for rousing even the deepest sleepers," she stated. 

 

The reader continued: "You'd make more headway in this ridiculous campaign by lobbying the insurance companies. Nothing gets done in this country without their blessing."

 

In a response Eichler shared with NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative (which the news outlet will hopefully pick up), he quickly addresses installation cost. "[That] is an area that the Coalition is also concerned about and is addressing. Fortunately here in Delaware, two avenues to address these costs indirectly are developing. Impact fees for development and construction have been reduced, thus making new construction purchases more affordable. Also, the Coalition was kindly hosted recently by representatives of the Delaware Department of Insurance to discuss the availability of discounts to home purchasers on their home owners’ policy if sprinklers are present."

 

 

Eichler also pointed to sprinkler ordinances that data proves have been successful, particularly in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

 

Please read Eichler's full response, which is attached to this blog post. And please follow his lead; if you see or hear comments that appear anti-sprinkler, please set the record straight and share your thoughts with the media and us. 

 

Every day seven people die from American home fires, and another 13,000 are injured each year. These statistics, while important, are only a small piece of America's complex home fire problem.

 

There are ripple effects to fire that the statistics don’t explain and the nightly news rarely covers. Once a home’s flames have been extinguished and TV reporters have turned their gaze elsewhere, there are real people left in a fire’s wake. Who are these people? What is their new normal, now that their lives have been forever transitioned by tragedy? We are about to give you a powerful look at the lingering effects of fire in America.

 

The National Fire Protection Association and Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors presents The Survivors, a multi-part podcast series that takes an extensive look at Wyoming resident Feike van Dijk, his wife Noelle, and their family. In 2014, they experienced the unthinkable when a home fire killed two of their children. The podcast showcases the lifelong toll fire has taken on this family and the people responsible for burn treatment and recovery in America. Weaving in perspectives from the fire service and America’s top safety advocates, this series showcases why Feike’s experience isn’t an anomaly. You’ll also learn about a proven technology that can significantly reduce fire death and injury at home, and the powerful forces spending millions of dollars to keep it out of there. Listen to the podcast's powerful teaser trailer  and subscribe to this upcoming podcast by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.  

Stephan Cox (left) and Richard Smith with the Maryland State Firemen's Association accept the 2016 Bringing Safety Home Award from Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Outreach and Advocacy and president of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

 

Do you know someone with a passion for home fire safety? Are they huge proponents for home fire sprinklers? If so, there's an award for that. 

 

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) and NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative are teaming up to recognize outstanding local efforts by an advocate who diligently promotes the importance of home fire sprinklers. The 2017 Bringing Safety Home Award honors members of the fire service and other sprinkler advocates who use HFSC and Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources as a key component in educating decision makers on fire sprinklers and convincing them to support sprinkler requirements at the local, state, or provincial level. While recognizing the recipient to our North American audiences, he or she will be honored at NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative Summit, November 13-14, in Quincy, Massachusetts. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging expenses for the trip. For previous award recipients, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website.


Please download the competed form attached to this blog post and email to firesprinklerinitiative@nfpa.org by no later than October 6, 2017. 

Introducing a new forum aimed at connecting you with other fire sprinkler advocates across North America. You may already be aware of this site, NFPA Xchange, our online community that houses this blog and an assortment of information for safety advocates. New to Xchange is our public education forum, a place where you can now connect with your peers! You’ll have the ability to initiate discussions via this forum, connect with others, and share lessons learned (or struggles) you have experienced during your fire sprinkler advocacy efforts. NFPA will be generating some discussion topics, but the forum’s intent is for you to have your voice heard while hopefully learning something new in the process.

 

Please bookmark the forum’s page today and check it often. Start a discussion. Read some of the posts. Highlight a sprinkler event happening in your area. Share information about an event.   

 

New to Xchange? Simply sign up for free by clicking the “Log in” link at the upper right hand portion of this page. And please let us know your thoughts on the new forum. 

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