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Charleston Fire Department Chief Tom Carr takes a courageous stand speaking up about the importance of fire sprinklers in homes. Aristotle said that "courage is the first among human qualities because it guarantees the others". Chief Carr has always been a champion for life safety and he is to be commended for standing up against the stiff and contentious battle that the SC homebuilders have engaged in to fight against fire sprinklers in homes. To read the entire article click here

It is difficult to stand up for what you believe in when it means going against the “political machine.” However, the fire service has always been known for its leadership and courage. It does not give up in the face of crisis; it forges ahead and keeps fighting. Getting involved in this initiative requires the kind of leadership and courage that emulates Chief Carr and others too numerous to mention. What are you willing to do? Will you stand up and be counted among the leaders in this initiative? Do you know other leaders that you would like to recognize? Share your experience with us by posting comments here.

Maria Figueroa

The findings of a groundbreaking study show that greenhouse gases released by burning buildings can be reduced by 98% when automatic fire sprinklers are installed. The study, a collaborative effort of FM Global and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, also found that automatic fire sprinklers:

  • reduce fire damage by up to 97%
  • reduce water usage to fight a home fire by upwards of 90%
  • reduce the amount of water pollution released into the environment

The complete scientific research findings from this study are available in an FM Global report, "The Environmental Impact of Automatic Fire Sprinklers".

Read more about the results of this study.

See our photos from the FM Global test burn.

- Mike Hazell

An early morning fire in Strathcona, southwest Calgary claimed the life of a woman who depended on a wheelchair for mobility, injuring her husband and son. The husband escaped but went back inside to try to put out the fire with his home fire extinguisher, and was unable to do so because the fire was too large. A neighboring hoiuse sustained extensive damage.

It is sad that examples like these have to be used to illustrate the importance of home fire sprinklers and to debunk some of the opposition arguments as follows:

Opposing argument: Smoke alarms are enough.

Fact: Smoke alarms do a good job in providing early warning but according to NFPA research, high risk populations (young children, older adults, the disabled) are dying in home fires at a disproportionate number and may need the additional time provided by home fire sprinklers to escape, or to be rescued.

Opposing argument: Why not just require fire extinguishers in the kitchen?

Fact: Fires don’t always start in the kitchen and home fire deaths occur in other living areas of the home. Over 40% of fire victims who die, do so attempting to fight the fire. The husband in this home fire, who valiantly attempted to put out the fire with his home fire extinguisher, suffered injuries while doing so.

Opposing argument: Fire in the home only impacts the homeowner, it should be a matter of choice.

Fact:  A fatal home fire impacts the entire community. It begins with these grieving survivors, having to mourn the loss a loved one, and having to deal with their own injuries. Burn injury survivors require lifelong support to recover from them, as found on the website of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. According to the Burn Survivor Resource Center; “burns are one of the most expensive catastrophic injuries to treat. For example, a burn of 30% of total body area can cost as much as $200,000 in initial hospitalization costs and for physicians fees. For extensive burns, there are additional significant costs which will include costs for repeat admission for reconstruction and for rehabilitation.” The long term effects of home fire burn injuries are often not discussed in the home fire sprinkler debate but perhaps it should be brought to the forefront.


This fire death also impacts an entire neighborhood that must deal with the loss of a neighbor/friend. It impacts the lives of the firefighters who responded to the fire, both physically and emotionally.  In this particular case the neighboring home suffered extensive damage. The home where the fire ocurred will have to be demolished and will remain off the tax rolls for some time, impacting community revenue.

I pray for this family and the community of Strathcona as they deal with this loss. Every fatal fire reminds me how important it is to continue to advocate for fire sprinklers in homes. With the continued assistance of advocates in the field, we will prevail.

Maria Figueroa

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial last Saturday, April 3rd supporting the home fire sprinkler requirement and the denial of the injunction filed by the builders to do away with it.

The opinion piece addresses the “red herring” arguments with facts and goes on to say that “in rejecting the builders' plea for an injunction, Commonwealth Court Judge Johnny J. Butler noted that the building code update had been in the works for more than a year, that it had been given a careful review by state officials who had the authority to reject the sprinkler mandate, and that the builder trade group had presented input at various stages…That sounds like the builders were given a fair hearing, but fire-safety concerns legitimately prevailed. “

Readers provided some interesting comments. Click here to read the editorial piece or to weigh in with your own comments.

Maria Figueroa

Sanford/Springdale Fire Marshal Peter Cutrer conducted a burn highlighting the importance of home fire sprinklers. The story was picked up and featured as top stories in at least two local news outlets; WGME13 and WCHS6. Interestingly enough, according to one story, Peter Cutrer is not allowed to take “an official stand on sprinklers but he wants to set the record straight on how they work.” He does an excellent job in both stories. We must salute him for having the courage to “step up” and push back against the opposition. Thanks Peter, and keep up the good fight!

We want to hear from you! If you've conducted a sprinkler demonstration in your community, what advice would you offer to fire departments considering such an event? It's easy to respond: just click on the "comments" link below, enter your name (just your first name is fine) and your e-mail address (this will NOT show in your post), and type your comments in the white box. Then select "post".

- Maria Figueroa

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