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2011

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CapeCoralLogoAs reported by NBC2 News First the City of Cape Coral, FL is working towards increasing the use of home fire sprinklers in new home construction. Policy makers intend to do this ordinance, offering incentives to make the systems cost-neutral.

In 2010, the Florida Legislature prohibited the Building Code Council from including the 2009 IRC home fire sprinkler requirement in the adopted code. Local jurisdictions retain the ability to adopt provided that they perform an economic impact analysis justifying the requirement. It is a difficult and arduous process that has been achieved by at least one other community in the state.

On Tuesday, November 29th, major stakeholders attended a Fire Team USA workshop with NFPA participation. The all-day event culminated in a side-by-side burn with the cooperation of the Cape Coral Fire Department coordinated by Battalion Chief/Fire Marshal Alan Carter.

Mayor John Sullivan and Council Member Chris Chulakes-Leetz have asked for assistance from NFPA to achieve this purpose. NFPA will work closely with the fire marshal and policy makers to support the effort by participating in the process and providing the needed resources available through the Fire Sprinkler Initiative®: Bringing Safety Home campaign. 

The Cape Coral Construction Industry Association has indicated interest in being a part of the process. The participation of this major stakeholder is very important for success. 

The City of Cape Coral is to be commended for taking progressive steps to protect the life of its constituents by supporting the construction of new homes meeting minimum standards that provide a reasonable level of life safety in the event of a fire.

Maria Figueroa

Calling it “Mandatory fire sprinkler systems in homes / An overreach” the Press of Atlantic City ran an editorial yesterday against home fire sprinkler requirements in new home construction.New Jersey coalition

The editorial, clearly citing opponents’ usual myths and red herring arguments, provides inflated cost factors for the systems. To make its point, the editorial states that the N.J. Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB), a proponent of home fire sprinkler requirements, “puts the cost of home sprinkler systems at 2 percent to 4 percent of a home's total cost - or up to $10,000 on a $250,000 home.” David Kurasz, Executive Director of NJFSAB shoots back in a tersely worded comment; “I can tell you that I was not contacted or reached out with regards to this false quote. I did not know it was the policy of this paper to come right out and lie.”

The editorial also states that the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) did not implement the provision in the new international building code in the first place. But wait, the DCA did adopt the provision during the last cycle. The governor's own appointed red tape committee recommended that the adopted regulation of fire sprinklers in new homes remain intact. Governor Chris Cristie then exerted executive privilege to reverse the action of the DCA, removing the requirement from the adopted code. It was after the governor appointed an “opponent friendly” head of DCA that the regulatory agency excluded the requirement from its most recent adoption.

Calling the provision an “overreach” of government takes advantage of the current overall mood against any kind of government mandate. Misinforming people and failing to acknowledge that fire sprinklers are included in all model codes as minimum standards of safety providing reasonable requirements to protect life and property in case of fire is just plain wrong. U.S. consumers expect that the products they buy come equipped with minimum safety standards, including new homes. Why is it acceptable that special interests win to allow substandard construction in new homes? Don’t the people of NJ deserve the inclusion of minimum standards in the homes they buy?

The life safety community in NJ has united to advocate for the provision and has turned to the legislation - where clearer heads may prevail - to move this minimum requirement forward. Supported by NFPA, the NJ Fire Sprinkler Coalition has been formed. Visit its website and take action to join in the effort.

Maria Figueroa 

Des PrichardFire sprinklers can save lives and should be put in all new home construction, says Des Prichard, Chief Fire Officer of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. According to a report in the Eastbourne Herald, Chief Prichard has given his full support to the National Fire Sprinkler Network which is appealing for fire sprinklers to be fitted in all new-build residential properties.

The National Fire Sprinkler Network is a non-profit organisation, which works in partnership with all of the UK’s Fire & Rescue Services along with local, national and European governments. Its objective is to stop unwanted and unnecessary deaths and injuries from fires in domestic properties by having automatic fire sprinkler protection systems installed in all new-build properties.

In Wales, legislation requiring the inclusion of domestic sprinkler systems in all new-build residential properties was passed unanimously and received Royal Assent in April 2011. Now, the National Fire Sprinkler Network wants this extended to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Mr Prichard said, “Fire does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone at any time and has a devastating effect on families and communities.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/NJ_Assembly_panel_advances_home_sprinkler_system_measure.htmlHomesystemlargNorth New Jersey.com reports that legislation to require sprinkler systems in new homes passed a New Jersey Assembly panel Monday. As posited in the article, this is sure to reignite the debate between the life safety community and special interests.

Opponents of the measure will surely use the same old tired argument that this minimum life safety feature in new homes is not “worth the added cost amid a staggering economy” despite proof to the contrary revealed in a research study comparing the impact of home fire sprinkler requirements between counties in Maryland that adopted the measure and counties that did not. The study found that fire sprinkler requirements in new one- and two-family homes and townhomes have no negative impact in housing supply and cost.

The bill (A3278), would mandate that the state Department of Community Affairs deny occupancy permits for new one- and two-family homes unless they are equipped with a sprinkler system. An identical bill, S2287, filed in Sept. 2010 has languished in committee.

Timothy Travers, NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Specialist for the Mid-Atlantic Region, testifying during the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee hearing, asserted that "building homes without fire sprinklers equates to building substandard housing." This declaration is crucial and must be included in every testimony for the record. The 2006 editions of NFPA 1, NFPA 101, and NFPA 500 included the requirement. With its inclusion in the 2009 IRC, the requirement is found in every national model code. Model codes represent minimum standards of safety to achieve reasonable levels of protection to life. A building code that adopts the IRC and amends this requirement is allowing substandard housing to be built since January 1, 2011.  

Notice to adopt the 2009 I-Codes, including the one- and two-family sprinkler provisions, were signed off and delivered to the Office of Administrative Law to be published in the New Jersey Registry back in February, 2010, where it sat awaiting an executive decision by the governor.

Shortly thereafter Governor Christie issued an executive order freezing and suspending all administrative rules for 90 days.The home fire sprinkler requirement was included in this moratorium althought the order made it clear that it must not apply to matters that “adversely impact public safety or security". The issue was covered here in a previous post titled "New Jersey home fire sprinkler requirement caught up in "red tape". In March 2010, I posted "A perspective on home fire sprinkler regulation freeze in New Jersey" where Mr. David Kurasz, Executive Director of the NJ Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB), implied that there were special interests at work in the delay.

This life-safety regulation was nullified by an executive order of Governor Chris Christie, despite the approval of the NJ State Code Advisory Board, the Department of Community Affairs, and the governor’s own Red Tape Review Commission.

Life safety advocates working cooperatively through the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition have worked feverishly against the governor’s action. The NJ coalition has achieved a much needed victory with this recent developent in the New Jersey Assembly panel. If you are a life safety advocate from NJ reading this, you are encouraged to contact the coalition and get involved.

NFPA has lent its support to the NJ coalition, and will continue to do so. We can only hope that special interests do not trump life safety once more. Stay tuned…

Maria Figueroa

Jeff HudsonJeff Hudson of Shawnee, KS, has joined the staff at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to promote the adoption of fire sprinkler legislation across the United States.

Jeff comes to NFPA with 36 years of experience in the fire service. Starting his career as a volunteer firefighter for the city of Shawnee, KS, he worked his way up the ranks to Fire Chief, a position he held for the past ten years.

He attended the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD, and holds an associate’s degree in fire science, a bachelor’s in management and a master’s in public administration. He has served in high-ranking leadership roles for a number of reputable fire associations and committees including the Kansas Association of Fire Chiefs, the Johnson County (KS) Fire Chief’s Association, the Fire Marshal’s Association of Kansas and the Eastern Kansas Multi-County Task Force.

Recently, Jeff was featured in NFPA's "Faces of Fire" campaign, an effort designed to put a face on the life-saving impact of home sprinklers. While Fire Chief in Shawnee, KS, one of his firefighters was the first in the community to die in the line of duty.

Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletterThe new issue of Fire Sprinkler Initiative News, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter, features a campaign by Massachusetts fire officials and NFPA to protest the state's new building code which omits the provision to require home fire sprinklers in new construction.

We also look at a new report that focuses on fire fatalities and property loss in Pennsylvania homes, welcome sprinkler advocate Jeff Hudson to the NFPA staff, and dispel common myths about home fire sprinklers.

Subscribe today to automatically receive our monthly Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter. It's free, informative, and will keep you up to date on anti-sprinkler legislation, our advocacy efforts, and other sprinkler-related news.

Newspaper

Home fire sprinkler advocates are used to those against them twisting and turning facts to make the argument that sprinklers should not be required in new homes. They say they cost too much, they don't. A report by the Fire Protection Research Foundation found that the average cost of home fire sprinklers in a  communities with a requirement was $1.61 per sprinklered square foot. They say that sprinklers will stunt  home building. They don't. A comparison of housing starts in comparable communities saw no difference in the number of homes being built in communities that require sprinklers and communities that do not. They say they cause water damage. They do, but far less than the water damage caused by a fire hose!

So it was not surprise when Keith Grant of Keith and David Grant Homes touted as one of his priorities as the new president of the Tennessee Homebuilders Association to prevent fire sprinklers from being required. But what was surprising was his quote in the Memphis Daily News that said, "What’s been found across the country is the fire sprinklers don’t save lives..." He is wrong.

One of the most important arguments for fire sprinklers is simple -- sprinklers save lives. Here are some key facts and research reports that emphatically make that point.Additional information can be found through the Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

If you have a reported fire in your home, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present.

Bucks County PA -- There were 90 fire deaths in unsprinklered one- and two-family homes in Bucks County from1988-2010 (88%of all County fire deaths during that time frame), with no fire deaths occurring in sprinklered homes. Five fire incidents in sprinklered homes have been documented as saving at least five lives.

Prince Georges County MD -- From1992-2007, there were 101 fire deaths and 328 civilian injuries in single-family or townhouse fires that were not protected with fire sprinkler systems. No fire deaths occurred in sprinklered structure fires during the period studied, and there were six civilian injuries.

Scottsdale AZ --In the 15 years of the mandate, there were 598 home fires. Of the 598 home fires, 49 were in single-family homes with fire sprinkler systems. There were no deaths in sprinklered homes;13 people died in homes without sprinklers. The lives of 13 people who would have likely died without sprinklers, were saved.

Lorraine Carli

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) and NFPA are present at the annual National Association of Realtors conference in Anaheim, California. The conference has brought together more than 19,000 real estate professionals under one roof.

HFSC distributed educational materials and engaged those stopping at the booth; providing answers to many questions. NFPA staff conducted an online survey about fire and life safety issues and to gauge real estate professional’s knowledge about home fire sprinklers.  The results of the survey will be used later to develop communication strategies for this important stakeholder.

Those participating in the survey were entered into a drawing for a Kindle reader. Bebe English from Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, in Pittsburgh, PA was the winner and is pictured below with Regional Director of Fire Prevention Maria Figueroa, and Fire Sprinkler Specialist for the Western Region, Jeffrey Hudson.NFPA-NAR_Winner_11:13:11

Charles Gilchrist
Charles Gilchrist
, mayor of Glencoe, AL, won a Kindle from NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative at the National League of Cities conference in Phoenix. Mayor Gilchrist, seen here with NFPA's Maria Figueroa, completed an online survey about fire and life safety issues in his community, and his business card was randomly selected from all survey participants.

Learn more about the life-saving potential of home fire sprinklers, and how to advocate for sprinklers in your community.

NFPA's Maria Figueroa and Mike Hazell are in Phoenix for the annual meeting of the National League of Cities (NLC). The conference, dedicated to help city leaders build better communities, has brought together more than 3,500 mayors, council members, city managers, city clerks and other key city employees. In the expo hall, Maria and Mike are educating attendees about NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, which encourages the use of home fire sprinklers through increased awareness and adoption of local ordinances or model codes.

Photo
Maria helps a conference attendee complete an online survey about fire and life safety issues in his community.

BucksCountyCoverThe nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) has published a new report “that sheds new light on the lifesaving value of installing home fire sprinkler systems.” The report was prepared by Fire Planning Associates, Inc., a comprehensive preplanning organization in Washington Crossing, PA in collaboration with the Bucks County Fire Marshals Association.

HFSC informs that the group studied life safety and property protection in homes with and without fire sprinkler systems and reviewed fire experience in nearly 7,000 sprinklered homes in Buckingham, New Britain, Warrington, Warwick and Wrightstown Townships as well as Ivyland Borough. 

As found in the report, there were 90 home fire fatalities in non-sprinklered one- and two-family homes during 1988-2010 in Bucks County.  Those deaths made up 88% of all County fire deaths during that time. There were zero fire fatalities in homes protected by fire sprinkler systems. The report details five reported fires in sprinklered homes documented as saving at least five lives. 

The average property loss in sprinklered-home fire incidents in Bucks County was $14,000, compared to $179,896 in damages to homes that experienced fires without fire sprinklers. The report found that fires in sprinklered homes required an average of 340 gallons of water to extinguish.  Homes without sprinklers required an average of 5,974 gallons (or nearly 25 tons) of water.

“HFSC initiates partnerships to capture and share useful data about widespread local experience with home fire sprinkler systems,” explains HFSC Chair Gary Keith.  “This new data from southeastern Pennsylvania adds to our collection of educational materials that help improve and increase the public’s knowledge about the extreme danger of home fires and the lifesaving value of installing fire sprinkler systems.”

“The new report provides detailed Bucks County case study comparisons, which will especially help consumers understand the many reasons why installing fire sprinklers in homes protects residents, property, and firefighters, like no other technology can,” Keith adds.

Read the Bucks County report and all HFSC’s municipal reports online

Maria Figueroa

According to the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) Illinois fire departments have been busy the last couple of months hosting open houses and community events to make the public more aware about fire safety, and more specifically, home fire sprinklers, culminating with national Fire Prevention Week (FPW) from October 9-15. However, according to Tom Lia, executive director for NIFSAB, those who missed the FPW residential fire sprinkler demonstrations, are likely able to see these demonstrations year-round.

Tom Lia explains that the Illinois fire service is committed to home fire sprinkler education throughout the year, not just FPW. Illinois fire departments are likely to reach tens of thousands through their continual educational outreach. So far, nearly 50 demonstrations have been held this year alone.

 

Side-by-side demonstrations offer the opportunity for the general public to understand the power of fire and the benefits of fire sprinklers in saving lives, reducing injuries, and preserving property. The nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) provides a free kit; a complete guide with specific instruction on how to build the props, including safety features to be followed during the presentation.

The HFSC website also provides the opportunity to sign up to become a Built-for-Life fire department. Doing so does not cost anything and provides opportunities to receive stipends to carry out these demonstration in your community.

Maria Figueroa 

NFPA President Jim Shannon
NFPA President James M. Shannon and representatives of every major fire service organization in the state came together on November 3, 2011, to protest the new building code in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which omits the provision to require home fire sprinklers in new construction.

Saying that the state building regulations board is playing with fire, NFPA President Jim Shannon and every major fire service organization in Massachusetts joined forces at a rallly on November 3 to protest the state’s new building code. The Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) recently removed the provision for fire sprinklers in new homes from the state’s building code.

"The BBRS should reverse their action," said Mr. Shannon. "They should not allow substandard homes to be built in Massachusetts."

During the rally, a dramatic side-by-side demonstration confirmed the value of home fire sprinklers.

Burn demonstration

A fire totally destroys an unsprinklered room during a live, side-by-side demonstration at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, MA. In the room outfitted with a single sprinkler head, the sprinkler activated after 20 seconds and quickly brought down the flames.

NFPA's Gary Keith talks to Boston TV reporter

NFPA's Gary Keith talks to a Boston television reporter following the dramatic side-by-side home fire sprinkler demonstration.

- Mike Hazell

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