RYAN QUINN

How to Respond to Legislators: Just the Facts

Blog Post created by RYAN QUINN Employee on Mar 21, 2009

<p style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff">I know it&#39;s difficult to testify at a&#0160;committee hearing considering anti-sprinkler legislation. Been there, done that. It&#39;s important to prepare and be ready to confront a group that has been heavily lobbied by residential fire sprinkler opponents. The way to do this is by sticking to the facts. The fact is that no other technology exists today to eliminate the fire death problem we face as a nation.</span></p>

<p style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Ray Bizal, Western Regional Manager for NFPA, recently wrote a letter to a legislator to address his questions with facts. Ironically, Ray worked with this legislator to pass fire safe cigarette laws in the particular state. I would like to publish&#0160;excerpts from the letter&#0160;here to provide one more tool in the arsenal of factual testimony. Local references have been removed because when it&#39;s your turn to testify&#0160;or write a letter,&#0160;you can fill in the blanks with data from your own state. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Home fire sprinklers have a greater potential to impact all fire fatalities if they are given a chance to be implemented at the local level. NFPA is opposed to&#0160;<span style="TEXT-DECORATION: underline">Bill Name </span>because it removes the opportunity for local jurisdictions to even consider whether they want to adopt such measures through their local public hearing process.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">I was listening to the public hearing of the <span style="TEXT-DECORATION: underline">Committee Title </span>Committee on Tuesday March 17<sup>th</sup>.&#0160; Thank you for conducting a fair hearing.&#0160; I noticed that many of your questions were not specifically answered, and I would like to provide you with answers.&#0160; <o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></span>&#0160;


 

<span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Is it more expensive to rebuild a house after a fire than the cost of providing sprinklers?<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Yes. Sprinklers usually cost about 1 to 1.5% of the total cost of construction.&#0160; A recent study issued by the Fire Protection Research Foundation finds that the national average for the cost of installing sprinklers is about $1.61 per square foot of sprinklered area.&#0160; This is significantly less than the value to replace damaged property.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">A 15 year study conducted in Scottsdale, Arizona – a community requiring fire sprinkler systems in one and two-family dwelling since 1986 – revealed that the average damage from fire is $2,166 for a sprinklered home vs. $45,000 for a home without fire sprinklers.&#0160; That is a 95% reduction in fire damage and difference of $42,800 average per fire. This figure represents direct property loss and does not include indirect costs such as removal of the home from the tax rolls while it is being repaired or replaced.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></span>&#0160;


 

<span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Isn’t there some sort of insurance break?<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Yes.&#0160; The same report mentioned above indicates that in the United States insurance carriers provide an average of about 7% savings in the insurance premium when fire sprinklers are installed.&#0160; <o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><font size="3">&#0160;</font></o:p></span><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><font size="3">&#0160;</font></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Aren’t fire alarms often disconnected or disabled?<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">It is fairly easy to disable fire alarms, and we see it done far too often.&#0160; Sprinklers are not readily disabled, and there is usually no reason to disable them.&#0160; This statistic on fire alarms is one of the reasons that sprinklers are needed, similar to why we need to use seat belts even though we have airbags in our cars.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">In fact, 34% of fire fatalities occur in homes with working smoke alarms, and 37% of the victims were sleeping.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></span>&#0160;


 

<span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Have residential fire deaths decreased in the last few decades?<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Yes, but more needs to be done with readily available technology.&#0160; <o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">When smoke alarms were introduced the fire death rate was reduced.&#0160; Since then the number of fire fatalities has remained stagnant – just over 3,000 people die each year in fires and about 80% of them in homes.&#0160; More people die each year in fires than in all natural disasters combined.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">In <span style="TEXT-DECORATION: underline">State Name </span>this year, all of the 9 fire fatalities so far in 2009 have occurred in the home.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Recent statistics for&#0160;<span style="TEXT-DECORATION: underline">State Name</span>&#0160;are not good.&#0160; Since 2005, 92% of the fire fatalities in <span style="TEXT-DECORATION: underline">State Name </span>have occurred in residential dwellings.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">In 2008 there were 19 fatalities with 17 in residences.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">In 2007 there were 24 fatalities with 21 in residences.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">In 2006 there were 21 fatalities with 20 in residences.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">In 2005 there were 20 fatalities with 19 in residences.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><font size="3">&#0160;</font></o:p></span><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><font size="3">&#0160;</font></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Would sprinklers make a difference?<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Yes fire sprinklers save lives and property.&#0160; NFPA has no record of a multiple fatality in a fire when the sprinkler system operated.&#0160; If a fire does occur, the risk of dying is cut by 80% with sprinklers.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">A recent study from Underwriters Laboratories indicates that the time to evacuate a home fire has significantly decreased over the last several decades due to the content of the material in homes.&#0160; In 1975 occupants had about 17 minutes to evacuate from inception of a home fire.&#0160; Now evacuation time is estimated to be as low as 3 minutes.&#0160; Most of this has to do with the type of combustibles we have in our homes.&#0160; <o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Additionally, rooms may be untenable for humans within just two minutes, followed immediately by full room involvement of fire.&#0160; Sprinklers provide time for people to get out or help others get out.&#0160; Fire sprinklers prevent fire growth and often fully extinguish the fire.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></span>&#0160;


 

<span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">What size of house would be appropriate for sprinklers?<o:p></o:p></span></span>


The size of the house doesn’t play a significant role.  The fact is that fire fatalities occur in large, medium and small homes.


 


 

<span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Isn’t water damage a problem?<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">One misconception is that all the sprinklers operate at the same time.&#0160; This is not true.&#0160; Individual sprinklers operate when it senses a significant rise in heat from a fire.&#0160; <o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Sprinkler malfunctions are extremely rare.&#0160; The risk is no worse than that from the plumbing system.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Also, insurance carriers generally consider damage from sprinkler water as fire damage.&#0160; Sprinklers release 10 times less water than firefighter hoses.</span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span>&#0160;</p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">How does this affect rural <span style="TEXT-DECORATION: underline">State Name</span>?<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Having fire sprinklers in your home is like having a firefighter live with you, 24/7.&#0160; Even if the nearest fire station is many minutes away, fire sprinklers can respond immediately to a fire event, saving life and property, while the firefighters are on their way.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Rural water supplies are not a problem.&#0160; If well water cannot produce the required demand, a small tank can be provided with either a pump or pressurized gas.&#0160; These can be protected against freezing conditions.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">A recent report by the U.S. Fire Administration and NFPA indicates that <span style="COLOR: black">communities with fewer than 2,500 residents have a per capita fire death rate almost twice the national rate.&#0160; Home fire sprinklers can significantly reduce this rural fire burden.</span><o:p></o:p></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span>


 

<span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><font size="3"></font><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">I hope this provides you with answers to your questions from the hearing on Tuesday.&#0160; Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.&#0160;</span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language: EN-US"><o:p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"></span></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12px; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">-Ray<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">&#0160;</p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">[Maria Figueroa | mailto:mfigueroa@nfpa.org]</p>

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