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2011

NFPA Today 

Be sure to visit "NFPA Today", our blog that will feature all of the latest news and project updates from NFPA, the authority on fire, electrical, and buildling safety. We've assembled a team of bloggers who'll keep you informed of the latest happenings from all around our Association.

- Mike Hazell
NFPA Division Manager, Web

 

Governor Dayton of Minnesota has vetoed HF460, a bill that sailed through the legislature after heavy lobbying by the home building industry, prohibiting the State Building Code, State Fire Code, or any jurisdiction from requiring fire sprinkler systems in single family homes.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoes anti-sprinkler bill

 

 

Citing the inclusion of the requirement in the model code, which will soon be considered for adoption in the state, he writes; " any objections to such a policy are best considered through the regular code adoption process."

He goes on to emphasize his concern for the safety of home occupants and firefighters stating; "I simply do not see how we can further jeopardize the lives of the individuals whose mission is to protect the public and who risk their lives on a daily basis."

With this action, Governor Dayton has demonstrated his commitment to life safety for the people of Minnesota. Common sense and the facts have prevailed over single special interests.

Click here to read the veto letter

 Maria Figueroa

Last week in Hinsdale (IL), the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board in collaboration with local fire departments, set up two controlled fires in a home - one in a room with spinklers, and one without; the focus being to tout the benefits of sprinkler systems.  According to the Hinsdale Fire Department Chief Mike Kelly, the demonstration "highlights the importance of having a sprinkler system in the home; the sprinkler side was quickly extinguished and they gave time for a potential family to get out of the house."

In the sprinklered room, the sprinkler activated about 40 seconds after the fire started and the fire was under control 30 seconds later. The temperature in the room never exceeded 170 degrees. However, In the unsprinklered room, it filled with smoke after just a minute and a half and quickly become unsurvivable.

Demonstrations such as these are a powerful way for citizens and community leaders to make a statement. Demonstration kits are available through the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative provides additional advocacy tools to help convince lawmakers in your state. 

- Karen Wallingford

King 5 news in Puget Sound (WA), recently covered a live burn presentation at a fire training facility where instructors set up a side-by-side demonstration to train cadets on the life-saving power of sprinklers. In doing so, they proved that a fire consumes the contents of a room so quickly that it becomes inescapable. After witnessing the second fire extinguished by just one sprinkler head, the cadets were convinced that fire sprinklers are the way to go. Despite many efforts and recent proclamations made by home builders that new building materials, new building techniques, and smoke alarms are enough to save lives, local jurisdictions may adopt the sprinkler mandate under certain conditions.

 

Sprinkler demonstration kits such as these are available through the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition's website and are an effective way for fire departments to raise awareness about home fire sprinklers. Take action in your neighborhood, and lobby for your local fire department to do the same.

- Karen Wallingford

State of Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has signed into law legislation providing financial incentives and removing certain barriers impacting the installation of fire sprinkler systems in homes. HB1295 was passed in the House. Its companion, SB5206 , moved quickly through the Senate and was submitted to the governor for approval.

Washington Governore Chris Gregoire approves sprinklers incentives

The law, which takes effect on July 11, 2011, “exempts homeowners who install fire sprinkler systems from paying the fire operations portion of the impact fee and establishes a fund to be used, in part, for “developing and publishing educational materials related to the effectiveness of residential fire sprinklers.”http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef0154327cb918970c-pi

As found on the governor’s website; “…Chris Gregoire has delivered real results to the people of Washington. Combining effective leadership with a tireless work ethic, she has shown time and again that she has the courage and independence to stand up and fight for individuals and families.” With this action, the governor recognizes the community benefits of home fire sprinkler systems. By removing certain barriers this law facilitates the adoption of home fire sprinkler requirements by communities in the state.

Removing barriers to home fire sprinkler adoptions has become a primary target of the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition ,while they continue to pursue the goal of obtaining statewide adoption of the home fire sprinkler requirement. According to Greg Rogers, its chair; “the coalition continues to be doing some very exciting things”

Way to go Washington!

Maria Figueroa

The May issue of our Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter May-newsletter
features a series of side-by-side demonstrations http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef0154326c786e970c-pithroughout the country that provided powerful evidence ofhttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef014e888d1243970d-pi thehttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01538e9984e6970b-pi life-saving power of fire sprinklers, including a video from Bridgewater State University (MA). Also, Guy Santelli, a fire inspector in Wisconsin who built his new home with sprinklers, is featured in our Faces of Fire sprinkler advocacy campaign. 

Sign up today - it's free, informative and will keep you up to date on anti-sprinkler legislation and the ways in which NFPA is challenging it, as well as other sprinkler related news.

- Karen Wallingford

State Senator Mike Stack's (D- Philadelphia) recent letter to the editor on Pennlive.com says that the new law in Pennsylvania repealing the mandate for fire sprinklers sends a 'bad message' and sets a dangerous precedent for the future of common sense public safety adoptions.

"More fire fatalities, property damage and more danger. That's what we get from the first bill Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law. 

This measure repeals the residential fire sprinkler requirement in the International Residential Code, which requires all newly constructed one- and two-family homes built in Pennsylvania to have a fire sprinkler system installed. 

This repeal is dangerous because we know that the majority of structure fires occur in residential homes. About 3,500 Americans die each year in fires, and about 18,300 are injured. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that the combination of working smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers reduces the likelihood of death from fire by more than 80 percent. To see the power of sprinklers in action, just visit www.youtube.com and search "Home fire sprinkler demonstration." 

Yet the Republican-led Legislature and administration has put a price tag on the lives of homeowners and firefighters, claiming the mandate would be too expensive for homeowners and builders. The new law made a second dangerous change. It requires a two-thirds vote by the Review and Advisory Committee to change the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code. 

This will create gridlock and prevent adoption of common-sense public safety changes. This law sends a bad message to our first responders, who put their lives on the line every day to protect us."

If you would like to echo Sen. Stack's sentiments in your community, review our advocacy page for tools to encourage your local government to require spinkler installation in all new one- and two-family homes. 

- Karen Wallingford

Video by Common Voices features Donna Henson, whose son died in a home fire and captures "the raw emotion of a mother."

Describing the content of the video, Common Voices posits that "the comparison between air bags in automobiles and fire sprinklers in homes is one that works. Many people even make the comparison that smoke alarms are the seat belt. The main point being that once technology is proven that can save lives...our nation has set precedence in incorporating this into our codes and manufacturing requirements."

I had the honor of meeting the members of Common Voices at the Congressional Fire Services dinner. These mothers, whose lives were impacted by fire, have turned their tragedy into advocacy for fire sprinkler requirements. I salute and commend them for their feverish drive to make a difference for future generations.

Maria Figueroa

 

NFPA will be offering free live web presentations on changes to NFPA sprinkler-related codes. The changes were brought about by Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) regarding the use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems.

“Based on recent full scale testing of various antifreeze concentrations in sprinkler systems, NFPA 13, NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D, and NFPA 25 have modified the requirements for antifreeze usage through recently approved TIAs,” says Matthew Klaus, senior fire protection engineer, who will host the web updates. “The purpose of these broadcasts is to provide a brief history on the use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems along with an explanation of the new requirements and a discussion of alternatives to antifreeze."

Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions following the presentation.

The updates will be broadcast on June 28, July 7, and July 19. For more information and to register, visit www.nfpa.org/antifreeze.

- Karen Wallingford

Fire Science Degree, a blog created and maintained by Frank and Sally Davison, offers a comprehensive list of accredited fire science colleges and universities. In a recent post, the authors compiled a list of their favorite “fire science blogs”, and three of NFPA’s blogs were among those making the grade.

“Whether you’re interested in fire safety engineering, fire prevention, or firefighting, there is something for you in our list,” the authors write.

The NFPA blogs cited as “the best” were:

  • The Fire Protection Research Foundation blog highlights news, activities, and research from the Foundation, an independent nonprofit whose mission is to plan, manage and communicate research in support of NFPA’s mission. 
  • The Fire Service Today blog is NFPA’s blog for firefighters. Firefighters can learn all about the science behind their protective equipment, read the latest research on sprinklers, or find out the date of the next training session.
  • The Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog provides resources for the fire service and other sprinkler advocates who want to demonstrate the need for home fire sprinklers in their community. The blog also serves as a forum to refute “anti-sprinkler” sentiments.

Thanks to Frank and Sally for adding some of NFPA’s blogs to their “top 45” list. Check out their full list of favorite sites.



 

 

Fire Chief online featured a post on its Mutual Aid fire chief's blog titled "Something is Better than Nothing in the Battle for Residential Fire Sprinklers."The following comment submitted for posting on the website represents NFPA's position in response:





 

Why is the fire service currently losing some of the battles for fire sprinklers in new home construction? Because the fire service is clearly outnumbered by political muscle, yielded by well funded lobbying efforts of the opposition.


 

<span style="font-size: small;"><em><span style="font-size: small;"><em>NFPA statistics cited are correct but they only address the fire injury problem in kitchen fires and heating equipment fires. For the most part, fires in the kitchen occur during the day. Most deadly fires occur at night while people are sleeping. The fact is that smoking has been the leading cause of fire death in the home for decades. Fires that start in other living areas also claim a large number of lives. Partial sprinkler protection in the kitchen will do little and in fact, will have a negative effect on the long term goal of combaling home fire deaths and injuries.


 

<span style="font-size: small;"><em>To expect that all consumers will “want” sprinklers in their new homes is unrealistic. A recent poll  revealed that 70% of people&#0160;underestimate the&#0160;risk from fire in the home.&#0160;An attitude of “it will never happen to me” works against the life safety community in its ability to “sell” home fire sprinklers.


 

<span style="font-size: small;">Reducing community risk involves the three E’s; Education, Engineering and Enforcement. Education only goes so far. Fire sprinklers provide an affordable engineering solution to the home fire death problem. Fire sprinkler requirements are necessary to reduce community fire death risk.</span>


++In the 1970’s home builders feverishly argued against hard-wired smoke alarms in new home construction, currently at a cost of about $500 per home. It is unlikely that they will support this partial sprinkler solution. Instead, they will propose mandating fire extinguishers in the kitchen, as was the case in the State of Virginia, or some other low-priced alternative is the solution.


 

The U.S. consumer expects that the products they buy come equipped with minimum safety standards. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission includes homes in products that must include minimum levels of safety. To compromise on anything less than national model codes shifts the liability from the home builder to the life safety community; an unacceptable alternative.


 

IAFC exists to unify the efforts of the fire service leadership and has clearly gone on record to support the model standard requirement of NFPA 13D sprinkler systems in new home construction. The fire service must present a united front on the minimum requirements of sprinkler systems designed and installed to meet the standard. Anything less is not a compromise, but a substandard solution to the problem.


 

NFPA does not support the suggested compromise. NFPA 13D already addresses the issue of where sprinklers are needed based on life safety. If someone has a proposal for revising that in some way, then a proposal should be submitted for review by the technical committee.



[Maria FIgueroa | mailto:mfigueroa@nfpa.org]

 

A representative from the Harrisonburg Fire Department is using a recent home fire as an example of the value of home sprinklers.According to Lt. Wanda Willis, "Home or residential sprinklers are one of the best purchases that people can do when they're building a home. You want to think about that because it will act just like a firefighter in your house".

The April 22 fire was completely contained and extinguished before the fire department arrived to the residence. Read and share more compelling evidence available to the public on our fact sheets page

- Karen Wallingford

Fire-Sprinkler-Billboard
A new billboard on Highway 217 in Tigard, OR compares fire sprinklers to having a "firefighter on standby". The billboard, created under a partneship of NFPA, HFSC and the Tualatin Valley Fire District, is in a state where local jurisdictions are allowed to adopt the sprinkler installation requirement in all new one- and two- family homes, and powerfully represents how effective fire sprinklers can be in savings lives and property from fire.With two or three more billboards expected to go up in surrounding towns, the message that fire sprinklers are like having your own personal fireman is expected to reach more than 700,000 motorists. 

The same point is echoed in this humurous public service announcement released by the Fresno (CA) Fire department:

                                                                                                                                                
- Karen Wallingford                     

Habitat for Humanity, a well established non profit organization that helps to provide housing for people in need, recently settled on a parcel of land in downtown St. Louis to start construction of new homes. In keeping with their larger mission of providing individuals with "decent, safe and affordable" places to live, Habitat built their latest residences with sprinklers in an area where model building codes require sprinkler systems in all new one- and two- family homes. While Habitat for Humanity was able to build residences in an area where sprinklers were required, there are many areas nationwide that still don't see the value despite irrefutable proof that sprinklers save lives. Use our advocacy tools to make the case in your community.  

- Karen Wallingford

Citing "serious public safety concerns" Montana’s Governor Brian Schweitzer has vetoed an anti-sprinkler bill passed by the legislature.

House Bill 307 would have prohibited the Department of Labor and Industry from adopting mandatory requirements of fire sprinkler systems in one- and two-family dwellings in the state building code, and would have also denied local jurisdictions from adopting same.

When the bill was submitted to the governor he sent it back to the legislature, amended to allow local control. He stated that his amendment would permit "state building codes to adopt a rule that would allow local jurisdictions to adopt and enforce building standards" and to "...decide how and when additional requirements for fire suppression should be required in new construction", emphasizing the importance of providing flexibility to local jurisdictions.

The legislature did not agree with the governor’s amendment. He then vetoed the bill in its entirety stating; "Firefighters across the state who risk their lives every day have run into serious obstacles in suppressing fires in new residential housing projects that have limited water supply or are remotely located from volunteer fire departments. The State Building Codes need to at least have the option of considering mandatory sprinklers."

Although the goal should be for statewide mandatory requirements in the building code, Governor Schweitzer is to be commended for his common sense approach to achieve a workable compromise. The legislature's misguided inflexibility, no doubt based on the usual red herring arguments presented by home fire sprinkler opponents, forced the governor's hand.

The Montana Fire Chief's Association, State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz, and Montana Safe Kids, among many others, are to be commended for their effective advocacy efforts. They now have another opportunity to provide community awareness and gain greater support for home fire sprinkler requirements. Opponents will surely come back to the legislature in the next session for another attempt to exclude this minimum home safety requirement from the state's building code.

Maria Figueroa

ContestImage "Why do you attend the NFPA Conference & Expo?"
The answer to that question just may get you a free registration to this year's event in Boston. Whether you're a regular attendee or will be a first-time attendee, we'd like to know why you attend and what you get out of NFPA's Conference & Expo.

Between May 3-9, 2011, we're asking you to tell us, in 75 words or less, what the event means to you. An NFPA panel will select one winning entry and announce the winner on Friday, May 13. All submissions will become the property of NFPA.

It's easy to enter: just visit our website and follow the easy instructions. Your entry must include your full name, e-mail address, and daytime telephone number.

Hurry! Contest ends May 9, 2011.

See the complete list of rules for this contest.

Seniors face greater challenges when escaping home fires, but when a fire broke out at a senior living facility in New Jersey this past weekend, the inhabitants were only temporarily evacuated from their homes because of the building’s sprinkler system. Leaving just three units uninhabitable, a fire that was caused by cooking on the third floor was contained and extinguished successfully. There were no injuries in the fire, and residents were temporarily evacuated to the lobby of the apartment complex.  Though more and more evidence supports the cause for requisite fire sprinkler systems in new homes, there is still resistance. It is more important than ever to make your voice heard – advocate for the required installation of residential sprinklers in your community. 

- Karen Wallingford

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