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It's a wonder fire sprinklers in homes can be such a contentious point when they have the power to save lives, as you're about to read: 

 

South Carolina

For the second time in a matter of weeks, fire sprinklers here extinguished a residential fire before the fire department had arrived. In this incident in Port Royal, a kitchen fire activated two fire sprinklers, limiting damage to the stove and cabinets. The Burton Fire District's fire chief, Harry Rountree, stated in a news story that "we can dry your house out, but we can't unburn it."

 

Texas
We received a report from the Farmers Branch Fire Department about another kitchen fire. The resident was cooking breakfast in a skillet as her husband showered. When she left the kitchen, the skillet caught fire. Fire sprinklers immediately activated. Damage was estimated at only $1,050. According to the report received by NFPA, "lives were saved by a single sprinkler head activation."

 

View Royal, British Columbia

The residents involved in this fire can thank this city's fire sprinkler requirement for its home's sprinkler save. The residence was required to have fire sprinklers, which controlled a candle-and-incense fire. "If this hadn't been a sprinklered building, this would have been a significantly different event," View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst told the media. "Thankfully the sprinklers kicked in and controlled the fire. It's a good outcome today."

 

Vermont

An electrical fire inside a Brattleboro home's basement prompted yet another sprinkler activation. According to a news story, "a sprinkler system above the furnace helped to contain the fire before the department could arrive." Nobody was injured, and fire officials believe the house will remain livable, stated the story. 

 


Has there been a fire sprinkler save in your area? Send them to us!

In our latest edition of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, read about the upcoming Home Fire Sprinkler Day set for Saturday, May 19, 2018. Start planning your event today.

 

You'll also read about: 

 

  • our new report that gives examples of fire sprinklers saving lives
  • a city recently passing a requirement for home fire sprinklers and upsetting homebuilders in the process
  • volunteer firefighter who responds to a fire...at his own home

 

Our newsletter contains crucial news for any fire safety advocate. Want to start receiving the monthly newsletter in your inbox?Contact us and we'll make sure we get them to you. 

Burn survivor Rob Feeney addresses crowd during news conference marking the 15th anniversary of The Station Nightclub fire

 

Looking dapper in his firefighter dress blues, Rob Feeney recently addressed a crowd and media members gathered at West Warwick, Rhode Island. Fifteen years ago on this site, a casual night out with his fiancee, Donna Mitchell, and friends at The Station nightclub became a fight for survival. Pyrotechnics inside the unsprinklered building initiated a fast-moving fire, which killed Mitchell and significantly injured Feeney. Emotional and physical support over the years led him on his life's new path as a Massachusetts firefighter. "I renewed my want for life and return to living," Feeney said to the crowd. 

 

Feeney has also been a staunch advocate for fire sprinkler requirements since the fire, noting that had The Station been equipped with this technology, the outcome may have been different. Considered the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, the fire claimed 100 lives and injured many others. 

 

Feeney joined NFPA and others at the event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the event while underscoring life safety achievements since the tragedy, particularly significant tax incentives for sprinkler installations and retrofits found in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. After The Station fire, NFPA enacted tough new code provisions for fire sprinklers and crowd management in nightclub-type venues. Those provisions marked sweeping changes to the codes and standards governing safety in assembly occupancies.

 

The new sprinkler tax incentive "allows building owners to bring existing buildings up to current code," said NFPA President Jim Pauley. "[The incentive] will save lives well into the future by increasing the number of buildings protected by one of the best fire protection devices we have: fire sprinklers." 

 

Accompanying Pauley at the former site of The Station (which now serves as a memorial) was the U.S. Fire Administration, the National Fire Sprinkler Association, the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, members of the Rhode Island Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and others. 

 

Hear more of Rob Feeney's story by watching our 2013 interview with him at the former site of The Station:

 

A 28-year-old father and two of his children, ages 5 and 6, died last month in a New Jersey home fire. Reports have indicated that the home did not have any smoke alarms or fire sprinklers--safety features that a local safety advocate says "could have prevented this horrific outcome." 

 

In a letter to The Daily Journal, David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, also stated that this home fire, like others, proves the randomness of these incidents. "Fire doesn't discriminate," states Kurasz, also a member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition. "It can start anytime, anywhere--and spread within minutes. Take a few minutes this week to learn about fire safety and prevention, and become proactive in helping protect yourself, your family, and your home."

 

Please follow Kurasz's advice and educate yourself on one of our favorite life-saving devices: home fire sprinklers. Understand the facts found in our new fire sprinkler research report.  

Looking for examples of how fire sprinklers have saved lives and limited property damage? You're in luck. 

 

NFPA's new report, "Sprinkler Successes in One- and Two-Family Homes and Apartments," documents actual incidents across the U.S. of fire sprinkler activations and its life-saving impacts. Here's an example of one of the report's anecdotes:

 

Residential sprinkler extinguishes California cooking fire 

A single sprinkler extinguished a fire in the kitchen of a single-family home that began when food left cooking unattended ignited. The single-story, wood-frame house, which covered 2,100 square feet (195 square meters), had both smoke alarms and a wet-pipe sprinkler system.

 

A water flow alarm alerted the home’s occupant, who was outside, that the sprinkler had activated. By the time he reentered the house the sprinkler had already extinguished the fire, so he turned off the electric stove and shut the water off at the street before calling the fire department business number at 6:39 p.m.

 

Firefighters arrived within five minutes to find water throughout the kitchen and a melted microwave oven above the burned stove. Before leaving, they removed the water with water vacuums, replaced the sprinkler, and put the sprinkler system back in service after advising the owner to have the system inspected.

 

The occupant said he began heating a pan of oil on the stove, then went outside and forgot about the pan. The house, valued at $635,000, sustained $63,000 in damages. There were no injuries.

 

Download the new NFPA report, and use these stories as convincing arguments for the use of home fire sprinklers in all new homes. 

According to NFPA's "U.S. Fire Death Rates by State" report released last year, South Carolina has one of the highest in the nation; its fire death rate was ranked seventh in the nation. Eight of the 10 states with the highest fire death rates between 2011 and 2015 were in the South. 

 

Safety advocates are confident that the best way to remove South Carolina from this dreaded top 10 is to start embracing home fire sprinklers. “Unfortunately South Carolina has elected to not adopt that provision in the code so we are still building buildings without putting sprinkler systems,” Daniel Byrne with the Burton Fire District told a local NBC news station. “That frustrates us at the firefighter level because not only are we watching families become homeless, not only do we see the injuries and deaths, but we’re putting our lives at risk going in to put out a fire that technology and codes could have eliminated before it even really got started."

 

The news story adds that the state legislature has debated the option to sprinkler the state's new homes, but has not adopted the model building code requirement to sprinkler one- and two-family dwellings. Continuing to increase awareness of sprinklers and the need for them is the South Carolina Fire Sprinkler Coalition. 

 

For the state to alter its fire problem, the South Carolina Building Codes Council and General Assembly need to take fire sprinkler requirements more seriously, added Byrne. 

 


Before you can champion for home fire sprinklers, understand your state's home fire problem. Download NFPA's "U.S. Fire Death Rates by State" report. 

Media stories have been filtering out of Illinois following the passage of a fire sprinkler requirement for new homes in Rock Island. Late last year, its city council voted on a building code update which included adopting a provision to sprinkler one- and two-family dwellings. Rock Island already requires fire sprinklering three-family homes and commercial developments.

 

Mirroring a trend across the U.S., Rock Island Fire Marshal Greg Marty told an Illinois news station that "fire deaths are not decreasing at the rate we'd like to see. [Installing home fire sprinklers] is really the most effective step you can take to protect your family."

 

The opposition immediately lambasted the new requirement, telling news outlets that installation costs will impact housing starts. The local fire service and city officials disagreed, yet recently met with real estate agents and builders to hear their concerns. However, based on a report of the meeting obtained by NFPA, the city is not reconsidering the new sprinkler requirement.  

 

Rock Island now joins more than 100 Illinois communities with a fire sprinkler ordinance.

 

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative commends the safety advocates who pushed for this requirement, and congratulates the Rock Island City Council for passing it.

Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have delayed a requirement for fire sprinklers in certain residences. His decision was a direct result of the Grenfell Tower Fire in London. 

 

Once again, state legislators are looking to delay these requirements. According to a recent story, a House panel approved another bill that would extend the 2019 deadline to install fire sprinklers in certain condominiums to 2022. 

 

Last year, the state's top fire safety organizations crafted a letter in response to previous measures delaying fire sprinkler requirements. “This legislation extends the compliance deadline, once again, and allows condominium residents to opt out of fire sprinklers...which creates an extremely dangerous environment for both residents and first responders responding in the event of an emergency," the letter stated. The Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition also supports fire sprinklers in all new homes. 

 

Check this blog often for updates to this story. 

 

Home fires claim the lives of seven people each day. Home fire sprinklers can help eliminate these tragedies, but legislative barriers and a general unawareness of this technology have prevented its use in new homes. America’s fire service and safety advocates will be able to take action in unison to raise national awareness of these challenges and a fire sprinkler’s life-saving ability.

 

 NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) are initiating Home Fire Sprinkler Day on May 19, 2018. This project tasks safety advocates across the U.S. with hosting simultaneous events promoting home fire sprinklers. While raising awareness of the home fire problem, these events will also underscore the life-saving impact of fire sprinklers and legislative barriers to its use. The aim is to have the fire service and other safety advocates host at least one sprinkler-related event on the same day in all 50 states.

 

“The alarming number of home fire deaths and injuries each year should be on the radar of every decision maker and member of the media,” says Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy and HFSC’s president. “Through this event, we hope to illuminate the fire problem and its solution on a national scale. Fire sprinklers have been a U.S. model building code requirement since 2009, yet challenges to its adoption still exist. Taking action collectively will send a powerful message that fire sprinklers are widely accepted and must be embraced in every state.”

 

Taking action is easy. Some possible activities include:

  • Host a side-by-side live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration 
  • Conduct a fire department open house featuring fire sprinkler information and sprinkler riser display 

The event’s webpage outlines ways to take action and resources for a successful event. New resources will be added throughout the year.

 

Please visit NFPA.org/FireSprinklerDay for more information, and please help us spread the word about this important event. 

Photo: Facebook

 

To his colleagues on Capitol Hill (some of them high-profile), Ed Lorenzen had a brilliant mind. During his 20-year career on the Hill, his work on the federal budget, among other roles, received high praise. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, for instance, recently stated that Lorenzen "brought unparalleled knowledge, pragmatism, and humor to his work on the federal budget." His latest role was senior advisor for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

 

Perhaps Lorenzen's most cherished role was dad. "To his children, Ed was a real superhero," according to a statement by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "We worked every day with a kind, loving man who cherished his three kids, bringing them to the office on occasion and lighting up in their presence and at the sound of their names."

 

Lorenzen's life tragically ended last month following a fire in his Rhode Island home. According to The Boston Globe, he was found clutching his two-year-old boy, Michael, "a final act of bravery from a father to a son." His other son, also home at the time of the fire, was able to save his little sister. 

 

"It is moments like these that you realize oftentimes you spend more time with the people you work with than your own family, and they become so familiar in your daily life that you cannot imagine rounding the corner and not seeing their smile or hearing their voice," stated the Committee. 

 

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative sends its condolences to Lorenzen's coworkers, family, and friends. 

 

The effects of home fires are far-reaching. Each incident has a unique story of loss, heartbreak, and survival. Have you been impacted by a home fire? Were you involved in one or know someone that was involved? Please share you story with us by responding to this blog post or contacting NFPA. 

NFPA recognized Ann Jones with the 2017 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal

NFPA is accepting applications for the 2018 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal, which recognizes outstanding efforts that take a firm stance on fire and life safety issues. 

The James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal was established in honor of former NFPA President James Shannon. Under his leadership, NFPA significantly advanced its mission of protecting the general public and members of the fire service by working towards key changes to reduce fire loss. Shannon, for example, was a vocal advocate for home fire sprinklers and intensified NFPA’s efforts to support requirements for this technology. The award honors other advocates involved in activities that help advance NFPA’s mission: to help save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge, and passion. 

Last year's recipient was Ann Jones. In 2007, Jones headed a legislative proposal that would give the country of Wales authority to ensure that all new homes are fitted with automatic fire sprinklers. She worked diligently to get cross-party support for sprinklers, sought out skeptical legislators, educated them on safety benefits, and won over the fire and rescue service with her enthusiasm and belief. The sprinkler law passed in 2011, making Wales the first country to pass a nationwide requirement and providing a model for all jurisdictions to follow.

Nominations are open to members of the fire service or any other person or group advocating for a cause pertaining to fire and life safety. Candidates who have collaborated with NFPA and beyond to help spread the reach of their efforts are strongly encouraged to apply.

The nomination application, which includes all award criteria and is available for download on NFPA’s site, is due February 23, 2018 and can be sent to publicaffairs@nfpa.org. The award recipient will be honored at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in Las Vegas in June. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging. Please nominate someone today. 

A deadly end to 2017 and similar start to 2018 in Delaware prompted a recent story on the state's home fire problem. The story also debates the necessity of fire sprinkler requirements in new homes, and gave NFPA the chance to offer its perspective.  

 

While smoke alarms have helped decrease home fire deaths, we cite a plateau--2,500 people, on average--that is unfortunately occurring year after year. (More on this trend can be found in our recent "Home Structure Fires" report.) The inclusion of fire sprinklers in new homes can help reduce and eventually eliminate these tragedies. 

 

Backing up our stance in the story while offering his own perspective was Paul Eichler, chair of the Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition. He compared water use of fire sprinklers with water from a fire hose. The "noxious fumes and billowing, black air pollution" from a fire that's given time to grow versus quickly extinguished by a sprinkler has become a firefighter health and safety issue. 

 

While sprinkler opponents complained about installation cost in the story, they failed to recognize the cost-effective results of fire sprinkler ordinances, specifically what has occurred in nearby Prince George's County, Maryland.

 

Read the full story, and add your thoughts on this debate in this blog post's comments section. 

Did you know the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes a significant tax incentive for fire sprinklers in a number of settings? 

 

We highlight this new incentive in the recent edition of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter. Learn what the tax incentive entails, and what types of buildings and residences are applicable. We've also highlighted a new section of our Fire Sprinkler Initiative website underscoring the fire concerns (unprotected, lightweight construction and upholstered furniture, for instance) inside today's homes. 

 

Have you missed this edition of the newsletter? Want to start receiving the newsletter monthly in your inbox? Contact us and we'll make sure we get all to you. 

New Jersey is about to get a better idea on which of its schools are protected by fire sprinklers and which ones aren't. 

 

A new law now requires the state's Division of Fire Safety to conduct surveys of fire suppression systems--or lack thereof--for all public and nonpublic school buildings. The results, in turn, will be sent to the state's Department of Education. 

 

"The law provides appropriate agencies with the information necessary to take appropriate action," stated Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, the bill co-sponsor, in a news release. "Many school buildings in the state were constructed decades ago and do not have adequate fire suppression systems, while others have systems that are not fully operational. This is a hazard.

 

"We cannot properly address this serious problem without accurate information regarding the status of fire suppression systems."

 

According to the news release, all school surveys need to include:

 

• whether a fire suppression system is installed and operational
• the year in which an existing fire suppression system was installed and any year in which additional piping or standpipes were added to the system or an additional system was installed in the same structure
• the cost of curing any defect if an installed fire suppression system is not fully operational
• the cost of a re-installation or annual maintenance of a fire suppression system that is inadequate or not fully operational

 

Praising the new law was Dave Kurasz, a member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition and executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. "This is a great first step in the process of determining the status of fire sprinklers in schools across New Jersey," he says. "Fire Sprinklers save lives, but only if they are installed and working properly."

 

What are your thoughts on the new law? Does it go far enough in protecting New Jersey residents? Let us know by replying to this post. 

I recently wrote an article for Sprinkler Age, the magazine for the American Fire Sprinkler Association, on effective tactics for fire sprinkler advocacy. The following are key takeaways from that piece which hopefully can help better your local efforts. 

 

I. Understand the home fire problem. Before you can promote the solution to America’s home fire problem, you must explain why the solution matters. Use NFPA’s data on the issue and obtain local fire statistics over a 10- to 15-year period to better illuminate what’s happening in your area to the public and your local decision makers. Check the Fire Sprinkler Initiative's sprinkler coalition pages, many of which include this data. 

 

II. Join the good fight. Speaking of coalitions, 30 states and one Canadian province have developed one. If your region has a coalition, contact the coalition chair and see how you can get involved. If it doesn't, contact NFPA. We can help you initiate one.

 

III. Promote the solution. If you’re looking for resources promoting the life-saving aspect of sprinklers, visit our “take action” page. There, you’ll find infographics, fact sheets, and videos ideal for social media sharing. Our newest resource is a downloadable, advocacy toolkit featuring the Fire Sprinkler Initiative’s greatest hits. 

 

IV. Counter the opposition. In case you missed it, a 2016 story by the nonprofit news organization, ProPublica, illuminated the power of the homebuilding industry, one of the most powerful opponents against fire sprinkler requirements. The report states that this industry has spent more than $517 million in the last decade on state politics, and has been influential in thwarting sprinkler requirements in at least 25 states.


We might not be able to match these dollars, but we do have fire safety on our side. Anytime you hear or see a “sprinkler myth” being perpetuated in your region, use your voice and state the facts. Write a letter to the editor in response to an anti-sprinkler story or let the public know a home fire incident may have been prevented if fire sprinklers were present. If there is a “sprinkler save” in your region, highlight it. 

V. Stay in the know. We're constantly producing new content for our advocates. Make sure you're the first to learn about it by taking a few seconds and subscribing to our monthly newsletter.

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