NFPA, much like the rest of the country, was saddened last week when seven children died in a home fire in Pennsylvania. Headlines of the tragic event filled newspapers across the country. Unfortunately it was not the only sad story to befall the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania just this year. There were several other fire fatalities making news since January.
As we looked at these horrific cases, we were struck by an irony. Also last week, special interests continued their effort – through HB 377 -- to repeal an existing requirement in the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code (UCC) for home fire sprinklers in new homes.
We thought that warranted some public attention. We designed this ad and wanted to place it in a newspaper The area newspaper rejected the ad saying that it was not in their best interest to print an ad that mentioned the incident involving the seven children. (Not sure what that means given it was covered as a news story.)
Our message is simple - It is too late for these fire victims but we can do something to save countless lives for generations to come by requiring home fire sprinklers in new homes.
Home fire sprinklers reduce the risk of dying in a fire by up to 80 percent and reduce the average property loss by more than 70 percent. Home fire sprinklers also provide a much-needed level of safety for firefighters and other first responders who regularly risk their lives fighting these blazes. Every national safety code covering one- and two-family homes now requires the installation of fire sprinkler systems in new construction.
The consensus of the Building Code Review and Advisory Committee under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor was to promulgate the requirement. Installing sprinklers in new homes ensures that Pennsylvania residents enjoy the same level of safety at home that they have in most offices, schools, apartments and public buildings. Some are working to remove that level of protection for Pennsylvania residents.
So while we saved money on the placement of the ad, we really want to save lives. Rejecting HB 377 will do just that. The bill will now be taken up in the Senate. Please contact your Pennsylvania senator and ask him or her to vote No on HB 377.