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I recently sent an email on the importance of maintaining the sprinkler provision in the IRC out to a number of individuals. Below is the text of the email. Please share this with as many people as possible.

NFPA applauded the efforts of the International Code Council (ICC) on the inclusion of a provision in the 2009 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) which requires residential sprinklers in new one and two family homes. This action meant all model codes carry that same life and property saving provision.</span><v:shapetype coordsize="21600,21600" filled="f" id="_x0000_t75" o:preferrelative="t" o:spt="75" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" stroked="f"><v:stroke joinstyle="miter"><v:formulas><v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"><v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"><v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"><v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"><v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"><v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"><v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"><v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"><v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"><v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"><v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"><v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"><v:path gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect" o:extrusionok="f"><o:lock aspectratio="t" v:ext="edit"><v:shape alt="J. Shannon" href="" id="_x0000_s1026" o:allowoverlap="f" o:button="t" style="MARGIN-TOP: 0px; Z-INDEX: 251658240; MARGIN-LEFT: 147.5pt; WIDTH: 187.5pt; POSITION: absolute; HEIGHT: 132pt; mso-wrap-distance-left: 2.25pt; mso-wrap-distance-top: 2.25pt; mso-wrap-distance-right: 2.25pt; mso-wrap-distance-bottom: 2.25pt; mso-position-horizontal: right; mso-position-horizontal-relative: text; mso-position-vertical-relative: line" type="#_x0000_t75"><v:imagedata src=""><w:wrap type="square"></w:wrap></v:imagedata></v:shape></o:lock></v:path></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:f></v:formulas></v:stroke></v:shapetype></p>

<p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; COLOR: black; FONT-FAMILY: &#39;Verdana&#39;,&#39;sans-serif&#39;; mso-no-proof: yes">

As ICC begins its next cycle, this provision is threatened. Proposals have been submitted that would remove the residential sprinkler requirement for the 2012 edition. We cannot let that happen.

Sprinkler advocates all across the country are gearing up to defend the inclusion of the life-saving sprinkler provision and need your help.  Proposals will be considered at the ICC hearings in Baltimore on October 28th. It is critical that sprinkler supporters show up and vote at these hearings to preserve the sprinkler provision.  All ICC members present at the hearings are eligible to vote.


For more information on efforts to keep the sprinkler provision in the IRC visit . All of the key information on this is issue and the real facts on home fire sprinklers are contained in my short video message included on this page and NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative Web site . Please view them and share them with others.

Thank you. Your efforts will save lives and property by bringing safety home.

Jim Shannon


Kingsport Fire Department in TN sent along a great picture of a billboard they have touting the benefits of home fire sprinklers. Barry Brickey, public education officer in Kingsport says this is the 4th year of their billboard campaign and education and prevention efforts have paid dividends. They have not had a fire death in 2 ½ years.

Billboard 2 2009

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt"><font face="Calibri" size="3">I recently came across a new Web site – </font>[<font color="#800080" face="Calibri" size="3"></font> |]<font face="Calibri" size="3">– an effort by the National Association of Home Builders to dismiss the need for home fire sprinklers. The site has great information on the critical importance of smoke alarms in today’s homes and provides the right advice on how to install and maintain smoke alarms.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&#0160; </span>There is no debate with the NAHB sentiment that Americans are safer from fire now than they have ever been thanks to the installation of residential smoke alarms.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&#0160; </span>The real questions are, “Can we be safer and can we save more lives”.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&#0160; </span>The answer to both is yes.</font></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt">[<font color="#800080" face="Calibri" size="3">NFPA statistics</font> |]<font face="Calibri" size="3"> chart a significant drop in the number of fire deaths since the 1970’s, when the widespread use of smoke alarms began. In 1977 there were over 6,000 residential fire deaths. Today that number hovers just below 3,000 and has been in that range for over a decade. That is an unacceptable number when affordable, reliable technology exists to reduce the number of lives lost. </font></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt"><font face="Calibri" size="3">More than 95% of homes currently have smoke alarms yet there are still people who die in home fires. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&#0160;</span>That is because smoke alarms provide an early warning of danger giving occupants time to get out. But those that perish are often those at greatest risk because they cannot get out by themselves – young children, older adults, people with disabilities. If we are to further reduce the fire death problem and better protect families and their property from fire we have to do more. That’s where home fire sprinklers come in.</font></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt"><font size="3"><font face="Calibri">Home fire sprinklers extinguish or slow the growth of fire, giving people more time to get out or be rescued.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&#0160; </span><span style="mso-fareast-font-family: &#39;Times New Roman&#39;">If you have a reported fire in your home, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present. People in homes with sprinklers are also protected against significant property loss—sprinklers reduce the average property loss by 71% per fire.<o:p></o:p></span></font></font></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt"><span style="mso-fareast-font-family: &#39;Times New Roman&#39;"><font face="Calibri" size="3">An </font>earlier blog posthere explored this issue in greater detail. As the new site states, “Smoke alarms do work.” It misses the mark by not stating sprinklers do too! You can learn more about home fire sprinklers at [ |].

[Lorraine Carli |]


The Homebuilders Association of Kitsap County is unable to "walk the talk" when it comes to the home affordability argument, as they have demonstrated in their September 09 newsletter

On page 3 they issue a "battle cry" to their members to contact the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) in order to convince them to remove the home fire sprinkler provision from the code. They say it is because a national study concluded that for every $1,000 increase in home price, 86 qualified buyers will be priced out of the market in the Bremerton/Silverdale area. They also claim that an additional $5,000 will price 800 of these buyers out of the market.

The analysis from their cited study fails to take into consideration important major determinants of housing affordability; prevailing market interest rates, and a buyer's credit standing/debt-credit ratio. House pricing and income alone, which were the factors considered in the study, do not determine housing affordability.

The irony here is that immediately underneath the above-mentioned, there is an advertisement for a custom countertop fabricator offering "the place to go for the best selection of solid surface counters." This is where they lose total credibility.

I conducted my own research into how much custom countertops would cost if I was building a home in Kitsap County. I was told that granite, as compared to other products in today's market, was the most cost effective option at $70-$75 a square foot,installed. Wow! Wonder how many people will be priced out of the  market by that?!

Let's get back to the matter of credibility.The average price for a home fire sprinkler system is $1.61 a sq. sprinklered ft. This price includes all costs to the builder, including design, installation, and any water tap and service fees that apply. That price does not come anywhere near other amenities offered by homebuilders. Therefore, pricing is not the issue. It is the fact that it is an unseen feature and not a "glitter" item. At issue here is not home affordability, it is the "bottom line."

According to Buddy Dewar increase in the price of a home by a fire sprinkler system decreases the amount of "glitter" that the homebuyer will purchase when buying a home. He says that builders know that buyers are willing to spend more per sq/ft. in a home to get amenities. Dewar tells us that "the glitter factor" is what makes homebuilders competitive in the new housing market. So the builder's true worry may not be that buyers will be priced out of the market; it is that the purchaser will not buy so many amenities, thereby reducing their competitive edge. Dewar posits that, in fact, no one will be priced out of the market; they will simply have to shift the combination of features, or the base price in their home selection. Most importantly, he concludes "the ability of homebuilders to remain competitive must never supersede life safety requirements in new homes."

I will leave you with one final thought. The people who "talk the talk" and "walk the walk" are the members of the fire service. Their motive is not driven by "the bottom line" or "competitive edge"; it is driven by years of witnessing the devastation of fire, carrying out the dead, and wishing it would end.

So whom should the WA SBCC believe? I hope they make the right decision for the people of Washington State.

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) is partnering with FM Global on a research project to evaluate the enviromental impact of home fires.

On October 1, 2009, FM Global will conduct full-scale fire tests to compare the environmental impact of sprinklered and non-sprinklered home fires. The tests will be conducted at FM Global's Research Campus in West Glocester, Rhode Island.

According to Gary Keith, of NFPA, and HFSC board chairperson; ""Sprinklers are proven to save lives and protect property. We know sprinklers also provide environmental benefits; benefits we will only be able to prove through scientific study."

I am confident that this environmental impact study will, once and for all, be able to validate what has already been established by empirical evidence; home sprinkler systems reduce the toxic products of combustion, and water usage by ten times the amount that flows through firefighter hoses.

Gary Keith states that "There's never been a better time to do a study like this because interest is at an all time high." It's definitely the right time. The results of the study will become one more weapon that home fire sprinkler proponents will be able to use in the battle for implementation of the requirements at the state and local level. After all; Who will be able to argue against a technology that will save lives AND preserve our planet?

The system will be designed and installed to NFPA 13D standards, and the tests will be conducted in a typical living room setting.

The tests will establish:

    • The types, quantity and duration of air and water pollutants released from a home fire as well as the water usage from fire sprinklers and firefighters' hoses.
    • The environmental impact resulting from burning household furnishings and finish materials as well as disposing the fire-damaged contents of a home.
    • The carbon footprint associated with rebuilding a burnt home.

The results of the study will be published in a report that will be available at not cost in the early part of 2010. Stay tuned...

Maria Figueroa

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