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In the Canadian town of Calgary, astonishing things are happening. Brookfield Residential, a developer for the town's newest development (called Livingston), has decided to place fire sprinklers in all of the new community's homes. That's 10,000 single-family homes and 5,000 multi-family units protected by this feature. Anticipating the installations, NFPA was in Calgary in 2016 offering free training on NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes to buiilding inspectors and plan examiners. 

 

More recently, a live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration occurred at Livingston that reaffirmed the developer's decision. According to a news story on the event, there have been more than a dozen major home fires in Calgary within the past month. "Customers who do buy one of these homes will see the value of the homes, especially when they choose to sell it. There's an embedded value there, with this additional, life safety system," Kurt Kadatz, Brookfield's communications manager, told the news station.

 

Watch the news clip featuring the new Livingston community and burn demonstration. The clip begins at the 4:50 mark. 

How bad has the fire problem been in Virginia this year? Consider this: since the start of 2018, about one resident has died every four days from fire. State data points to a 40 percent increase in civilian fire fatalities when comparing 2018 first-quarter fire data with last year's. 

 

"We need to be mindful of the fire risks in our homes," Chief Michael Reilly, executive director of the Virginia Department of Fire Programs told The Roanoke Star.  Virginia's leading cause of fire fatalities this year is careless smoking and improperly discarded smoking materials. The median age of the victims is 70 years old, a reality that coincides with NFPA data proving that 30 percent of fatal home fire victims were at least 65 years of age.

 

While Virginia State Fire Marshal Brian McGraw stressed the necessity of smoke alarms and fire escape planning, he also made a pitch for home fire sprinklers, specifically to protect his state's aging population. "Our data indicates that older adults are more likely to die in a fire because they lack the ability to exit quickly," he told the publication. "However, residential sprinklers contain or extinguish fires while they are still small and reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by nearly 80 percent."

 

In May, Virginia joined more than 20 states promoting this technology during North America's first Home Fire Sprinkler Day. "By joining forces coast to coast [during this event], communities debunked persistent myths, helped consumers learn the facts before they build or buy a new home, and urged their local officials to support sprinkler codes," says Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Outreach and Advocacy and president of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. 

 


Before you can promote the solution to home fires, you must underscore the problem to your public and decision makers. Follow Virginia's lead; use local data to underscore your regional fire problem. Then use our free advocacy resources to show your community how to combat it. 

Indian Hills, Colorado, is weighing a home fire sprinkler requirement, basing the consideration partly on water supply concerns and firefighter response times. 

 

A resolution to sprinklering its new homes was introduced by Randy Rudloff, fire marshal for the Inter-Canyon Fire/Rescue. He told the Canyon Courier that the majority of new construction is happening outside of the town's water district. Another source for the story stated Indian Hills' mountainous geography impacts its water supply. Home fire sprinklers aid the environment by reducing water usage to fight a home fire by upwards of 90 percent when compared to traditional firefighting tactics.

 

The news report also adds that Indian Hills has longer fire response times, something home fire sprinklers can address, since the technology reacts immediately to fire. According to NFPA's "U.S. Experience With Sprinklers" report, where sprinklers were present, flame damage was confined to the room of origin in 97 percent of fires. 

 

The town's fire board decided to table a May vote on the resolution to discuss it further. 

You didn't have to look far to notice one of the stars of NFPA's Conference and Expo, happening this week in Las Vegas. Getting its time in the spotlight was the fire sprinkler, with NFPA dedicating an entire section of the expo floor to this technology. 

 

This area, called The Annex: Focus on Suppression, featured NFPA experts discussing various areas of fire suppression. On display was a "fire sprinkler petting zoo," where attendees could view the various fire sprinkler heads created over the years. Compliments of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), there was also a fire sprinkler riser display seen in sprinklered homes. (Here's how you can create your own.) A popular, physical takeaway was HFSC's new fire sprinkler prop, a great tool safety advocates can use to demonstrate the simplicity of fire sprinklers. 

 

Not at our conference? Visit our Fire Sprinkler Initiative for more information on this technology and how to promote its importance in your area. 

Feike van Dijk spoke to a room of mainly fire service individuals about the 2014 home fire that claimed two of his children, Zephan and Noah. He, too, was, injured in the blaze while attempting to save his boys. He can still smell the smoke, feel the heat of the flames. The memories have contributed to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Van Dijk is on a cocktail of medications to help with the pain. 

 

Medication, however, wasn't a cure-all. He also took steps to address his emotional trauma, steps that go against what he says is "firefighter culture." For example, he highlighted the "silence when dealing with personal problems" and "machismo" persona that doesn't tend to ask for help. Finding that help, however, was what led van Dijk on his path toward healing. His steps and his story were highlighted during his session, "Addressing PTSD in the Firehouse," at NFPA's Conference and Expo in Vegas. 

 

Complementing van Dijk's path to recovery was additional emotional support services by the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. Amy Acton, executive director of the organization, highlighted these services during the session, including peer support. 

 

Van Dijk's journey from burn survivor to safety advocate was documented in NFPA's five-part podcast series, "The Survivors." Please listen to the podcast to hear his full story and about the far-reaching impact home fires have had on the fire service and many families nationwide. 

Here's a quick rundown of what you'll find in the latest edition of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter:

 

  • We asked our sprinkler advocates to take action on Home Fire Sprinkler Day on May 19, and they did not disappoint. Read our recap of this project, and see photos of the events.  
  • Experts weigh in on how fire impacts unprotected, lightweight construction and upholstered furnishings common in today's home settings.
  • You said you wanted more information from us regarding NFPA 13D requirements. Our website now features insights about home fire sprinkler installation. 

 

Don't miss an issue of our monthly newsletter. Take a few seconds, and subscribe today! 

I had many burning questions for Robert Nolan, fire marshal for the city of Las Vegas Fire and Rescue. News broke earlier this year that Vegas' city council unanimously approved a requirement to fire sprinkler its one- and two-family homes. Since Vegas is the hottest real estate market in the U.S. (per Realtor.com), this decision will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the safety of its residents. Nolan, his fire chief, and others worked behind the scenes to see this requirement through. I needed to know how they did it. 

 

I chatted with Nolan on the specifics, and my interview with him appears in the latest issue of NFPA Journal. To my surprise, he and others worked with the local homebuilding association, which in the end, also supported a Vegas fire sprinkler requirement. "At no point did we say [to the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association], ‘Hey, we’re going to steamroll you’—that was never an option for us, and it shouldn’t be anyone’s tactic,” Nolan told me. “We learned, through negotiations, what they wanted and what was important to them. And we were able to deliver on most of those.”

 

Read how this success story came to be, and let us know your thoughts on these tactics by replying directly to this blog post. 

A bill has been introduced in Albany County, New York, that would require the sprinklering of new, one- and two-family homes and townhomes there after January 1, 2019. The bill references Maryland as a crucial reason why the new law is necessary, stating, "Experience from the state of Maryland, which mandates home fire sprinklers, shows that there has not been a fatality from a home fire in a sprinklered home since they mandated their use."

 

As it has done in earlier this year, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs advocated for fire sprinkler requirements on TV. Jerry DeLuca, the association's executive director, recently discussed fire sprinkler benefits with an ABC news station. Using a blown-up version of the home fire timeline produced by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), DeLuca underscored fire's power. 

 

"Fire doubles in size every 30 seconds," DeLuca told the reporter. "So the expansion of that fire...can be astronomical," he says. 

 

According to the ABC story, the fire sprinkler proposal goes to committee next month.  

 

If being interviewed by a reporter, it helps to have visuals. Use the home fire timeline and HFSC's new fire sprinkler prop for support. Also, don't forget to stick to these important talking points.

Scottsdale, Arizona, is well-known for its ordinance to fire sprinkler its new homes, a requirement that has been in existence there for more than 30 years. Home sprinkler naysayers need only look to this report by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition to understand how this ordinance has reduced Scottsdale's home fire losses and led to installation costs well below the national average. 

 

What might not be as well-known is how this ordinance came to be. Launched in conjunction with this year's Home Fire Sprinkler Day, Scottsdale released a short documentary film and accompanying article about their ordinance. Hear or read the compelling story of how this requirement began with the successful sprinklering of two model homes in Scottsdale. 

 

“We are a big city and we get looked at and studied all the time,” Scottsdale Deputy Fire Chief Jim Ford, who was influential in the ordinance's passage, says in the documentary. “People come to look at us and ... I’m able to say without a doubt that (residential sprinklers) make a huge difference in how our community is protected.”

 

Watch the documentary: 

With more than 50 events occurring in 25 states and Canadian provinces, Home Fire Sprinkler Day has been deemed a success. This project initiated by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition tasked safety advocates with taking action showcasing the power and performance of this technology. Whether hosting a side-by-side burn demonstration or touring a sprinklered home, all of our advocates contributed to the project's success. 

 

We've gathered photos of Sprinkler Day activities and placed them in a gallery on NFPA's Facebook page. View the gallery to see the many ways home fire sprinklers were put on display. If you have photos from your event, please send them to NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team.

Going forward, all new homes built or commissioned by a specific English city council will include fire sprinklers. 

 

This decision followed a favorable vote in May by city councilors in Cornwall, a county in Southwest England. They also determined homes currently under development that the council is either building or commissioning would also require fire sprinkler protection. Supporting this requirement is the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. 

 

The life safety of fire sprinklers seemed to be at the heart of the council's decision. According to a news story on the new requirement, "councilors said that the cost [of installation] was not as important as [how] the move could save lives." 

 

According to news release on the requirement, Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes, stated the Cornwall fire service "has long advocated for the use of sprinklers, as the evidence shows that they can prevent fire from spreading--not only making sure routes are clear for occupants to escape to safety, but also limiting property damage. While it is not mandatory to install sprinklers in new homes, this is our opportunity to lead by example.

 

"I hope that through our example we can promote wider adoption of this approach...by developers more generally."

 

Educate yourself on the many benefits of fire sprinkler requirements; view research reports on this topic from NFPA and others. 

Fire sprinkler advocates are likely familiar with the popular myths associated with home fire sprinklers. (No, smoke won't set off fire sprinklers.)  Lesser-known myths pertain to requirements found in NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes. Setting the record straight is NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, which now includes a section on its site listing where fire sprinklers are and aren't required, per the standard. Take, for example, the following: 

 

Sprinklers shall not be required in garages, open attached porches, carports, and similar structures.
Many are surprised to learn that NFPA 13D does not require sprinklers in garages. But, in fact, few deadly fires start in garages. A simple cost-benefit analysis can illustrate that the extra expense of placing sprinklers in garages does not provide an equal balance of protection due to the fact that most garages are not heated and the sprinkler system would need to be a dry system or an antifreeze system in many geographic regions. This cost-benefit analysis and the fact that most residential building codes require a one-hour fire resistance rating for the walls separating the garage and the remainder of the home led to this omission. 

 

Keep in mind requirements for installations may vary from region to region. Check with your authority having jurisdiction for specifics. 

 

For a list of fire sprinkler omissions in homes per NFPA 13D, visit NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

If two New Jersey legislators have their say, all new homes in the Garden State will be protected by fire sprinklers. 

 

A bill introduced in the State Assembly by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and another introduced in the State Senate by Senator Teresa Ruiz would require fire sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes. Similar bills in previous years have made it to former Governor Chris Christie's desk, only to be vetoed both times. NFPA firmly supports these bills. 

 

"New Jersey averages more than 15,000 structure fires each year, and more than 80 percent of them occur in one- and two-family homes," says David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board and member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition. "This bill takes a major step forward in protecting our residents in making sure they live in homes that are equipped with fire sprinklers, which can protect them from devastating and often deadly consequences of home fires."

 

According to Kurasz, the bill would not apply to manufactured homes or one- or two-family homes not connected to a public water supply. Check this blog often for updates on this bill. 

Rain may have been in the forecast for many parts of North America on Saturday, May 19. However, it did not dampen efforts to finally give home fire sprinklers the widespread attention this technology deserves. 

 

More than 50 events in 25 U.S. states and Canadian provinces took place on or around North America's first Home Fire Sprinkler Day. The project was an idea generated by sprinkler advocates and put into action by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Using a little ingenuity and a ton of passion, advocates took local steps to raise awareness about a proven, life-saving technology and in the end energized a grassroots movement in support of sprinklers.  

 

As news reports on these events filled my inbox and flooded my Twitter feed (check out the hashtag #HomeFireSprinklerDay to see what I saw), I felt a sense of pride for the countless number of advocates who had participated. The following is by no means an exhaustive list of what happened on Home Fire Sprinkler Day, just a sampling: 

 

  • In Philadelphia, a resident living in a sprinklered rowhome opened her doors to the media, as safety officials discussed sprinklers in homes and distributed sprinkler information around town.
  • Members of the North Carolina Fire Sprinkler Coalition initiated a live burn/fire sprinkler demo to attendees at the 2018 Got to Be NC Festival. They have covered, grandstand seating to protect people from the rain.
  • NFPA joined U.S. Fire Administrator G. Keith Bryant, Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci, and others for a Home Fire Sprinkler Day media event in College Park, Maryland. 
  • In addition to hosting a couple live burn/fire sprinkler demonstrations in South Carolina, the town of Tega City declared May 19 Home Fire Sprinkler Day. I had also heard that Scottsdale, Arizona, and Bend, Oregon, had signed proclamations for this day.  

 

NFPA will be creating a digital gallery of all Sprinkler Day events. Please send your photos and a brief write-up to NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team. To those who had participated in events and to members of the Sprinkler Day steering committee who got this project off the ground, thank you for making this inaugural event such a success! 

The big day is almost here. Are you ready? 

 

Advocates across the U.S. and Canada are initiating more than 50 events for Home Fire Sprinkler Day, set to take place in the U.S. on Saturday, May 19. (Visit our event map to see where these events are occurring.) The end goal for hosting these events on the same day is to raise awareness of this life-saving technology while breaking down the myths and legislative barriers to its use in new homes. 

 

Whether you're participating in an event or helping to spread the sprinkler message on social media, we have the resources to help you. Visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Day page for:

 

  • sample social media posts and eye-catching social media cards
  • news release and letter-to-the-editor templates
  • a Home Fire Sprinkler Day proclamation
  • and much more

 

To our advocates participating in this great day, NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition wishes you a world of success! 

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