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Is your department taking advantage of this valuable, useful and free resource that can help your educators reach their public safety goals? The Built for Life Fire Department Program was launched by the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) in response to a national Home Safety Council/John’s Hopkins survey of U.S. chiefs that showed that only 6% of departments were able to teach about home fire sprinklers.

HFSC earned a Fire Prevention & Safety Grant to develop the program with a goal of increasing that number by 10%. Their premise was that more fire departments would teach about home fire sprinklers if they had free materials and support.

They were right! HFSC exceeded its original goal, and they’ve continued to grow the program since. Today, there are more than 2,000 Built for Life Fire Departments, and the program is still growing.

If your department hasn’t yet joined, you’re missing out on a great resource and effective materials to help you add this important public-safety message to your educational outreach. Last year, HFSC gave $1,000 stipends to more than 100 local fire departments to help them build and present live flashover and sprinkler side-by-side demonstrations. Program members are the first to receive new educational materials and are regularly invited to participate in HFSC outreach activities, such as the stipend program.

So what are you waiting for? Sign your department up today.

- Peg Paul is the executive director of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

February 2011 FSI newsletterThe February issue of Fire Sprinkler Initiative Update, our monthly e-newsletter, has hit the streets. (Read the issue or subscribe today - it's easy and free!)

In this issue, we showcase Meredith Hawes, a fire and life safety educator from Traverse City, MI, whose mission is to educate the public about the life-saving impact of home fire sprinklers. We also talk about a firefighter rally in Harrisburg, PA, in support of the state's sprinkler requirements in new homes.

- Mike Hazell

Vote As we mentioned a few weeks ago, NFPA is looking for one special firefighter or someone who works for a fire department to be the voice of our official mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog®. We asked firefighters and fire department employees throughout the United States and Canada to submit an audition video...and now it's time for you to vote for your favorite.

  • Barry Brickey, Public Education Officer, Kingsport, TN, Kingsport Fire Department
  • Steve McAdoo, Public Information Officer, Clackamas, OR, Clackamas Fire District #1
  • Alex Mickschl, Fire Equipment Operator, Spokane, WA, Spokane Fire Department

We'll announce the winner of our "Voice of Sparky® " contest March 1, 2011. He or she will receive an authentic Sparky the Fire Dog® costume, a trip to Boston to record for the NFPA Fire Prevention Week video – and of course, the best public education materials around to continue teaching children, their parents and educators about fire prevention and public safety.

Vote now!

- Mike Hazell

Register by February 28 and save $100 on The Fire Protection Research Foundation's 15th annual Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications conference (SUPDET). Fire detection, suppression, and signaling professionals from around the world will meet to exchange ideas and innovations in 35 different presentations in Orlando, FL, March 22 - 25. This year's conference will include an interactive workshop (PDF, 149 KB) on Fire Protection Challenges in Telecommunications and Information Centers, for which Continuing Education Units (CEUs) can be earned.

- Mike Hazell

Designed to provide guidance and information for water authorities, a new Fire Protection Research Foundation report describes the results of a study examining water usage and water meter performance during residential sprinkler system actuation. Often, these issues are barriers to implementing residential sprinkler requirements because the water authority is not equipped with the facts. The report includes results of a survey of fire departments on their average use of water at single family home fire scenes, fire flow calculations for a variety of single family home fire sprinkler systems, and a study of the performance of conventional residential water meters in a maximum and minimum fire sprinkler flow scenario.

Kathleen Almand, Research Foundation Executive Director, talks about the new water usage and meter performance study.

P1010178 Senator Timothy J. Solobay, speaks at the state house rally to support home fire sprinkers in new one and two family homes.

Representatives of fire departments from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania came to the state house in Harrisburg to show their support for the PA Uniform Construction Code which includes a requirment for home fire sprinklers in new one and two family homes. The code went into effect January 1, 2011 but is now threatened by a bill (HB 377) which would prohibit the PA Department of Labor and Industry from implementing updated safety codes.

Pennsylvania is one of four states that have adopted the requirement for sprinklers in new one and two family homes.

The US Fire Adminstration, the National Fire Protection Association, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and Common Voices commended the Pennsylvania State Legislature for moving forward with the fire sprinkler requirement calling it a significant advancement toward reducing proerty damage and preventing death and injury to citizens and firefighters. They also warned of the deadly consequences of voting to overturn the code requirement.

One by one speakers talked about the benefits of sprinklers saying they are the most effective way to control or extinguish a fire, saving lives and minimizing property damage. Speakers talked about the relative cost ($1.61 per sprinklered square foot according to a Fire Protection Research Foundation study of 10 communities with sprinkler requirements)compared to the cost of a life or the cost of medical care for burn survivors. They also spoke of the importance of the code process that resulted in the requirement. All model codes now require sprinklers in new one and two family homes.

Today's event was coordinated by the PA Residential Sprinkler Coalition. They urged firefighters in Pennsylvania to act on this important fire and firefighter safety issue by contacting their legislator. Go to to access sample letters and email contact for your legislator.

Lorraine Carli 

"Sometimes people just need to see it to believe it," says West Virginia State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis, Jr. That's why two fires will be intentionally set in front of a live audience on February 9 at 2:00 pm, on the north side of the Capitol building in Charleston. (The original date, February 2, was cancelled to a high wind advisory.)

According to the official blog for the state of West Virginia, the State Fire Marshal’s Office received financial support from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition to coordinate this event. Assisting them with the demonstration are the Kanawha County Office of Emergency Services, the National Fire Sprinkler Association, Brewer and Company of West Virginia, Inc., and Road Sprinkler Fitters U.A. Local Union 669. Staff and students of Carver Career Center are assisting in the compartment construction.

"There's nothing like the heat and smoke of a real fire to help adults and children understand just how fast a home fire is," says Lewis. "With our side-by-side comparison, we can show both the danger of fire and the value of having a fire sprinkler system installed."

Read the original blog post.

- Mike Hazell

We take a quick detour from the topic of home fire sprinklers to let our fire service readers know about an exciting new contest from NFPA.

Sparky the Fire Dog® turns 60 this year, and to kick off his birthday celebration, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is looking for one special firefighter or someone who works for a fire department to be the voice behind this iconic mascot we all know and love!

  • Are you firefighter or do you work for a fire department?
  • Are you enthusiastic, charismatic and perhaps known for having a great voice?

Between February 1 and February 16, we invite you to submit a video of yourself giving your best Sparky impersonation. You could win an authentic Sparky the Fire Dog® costume, a trip to Boston to record for the NFPA Fire Prevention Week video – and of course, the best public education materials around so that you can continue teaching children, their parents and educators on fire prevention and public safety.

The entry deadline for this contest is Wednesday, February 16, so don't delay. Learn more and see our contest rules.

- Mike Hazell
NFPA Division Manager, Web

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