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Firefighters from around the State of South Carolina gathered on Tuesday, May 22 to kick off “Faces of Fire” of South Carolina campaign. This is a state wide effort to educate the public on the life safety and other benefits of the required fire sprinkler protection for single family dwellings in all national model codes.


As a way of showing how quickly fire spreads and the life and property saving value of fire sprinklers, South Carolina Fire and Life Safety Education Association (FALSE) intentionally lit two fires in front of a live audience. Each room contained common furnishings, window treatments and a working smoke alarm.  Only one of the rooms contained a fire sprinkler.

The South Carolina State Firefighters Association partnered with NFPA to form the South Carolina Fire Sprinkler Coalition for the purpose of bringing the fire service and other stakeholders together to increase awareness of the power of fire and the home fire death problem, emphasizing the role that home fire sprinklers play in saving lives, and preventing injuries in South Carolina.

The campaign consists of billboard and video public service announcements, side-by-side burn demonstrations, and other events throughout the year. An important feature of the campaign is South Carolinians Princella Lee Bridges, Chief Brian Black, and Linda Chavis, telling their story of fires, loss, and recovery resulting from fire incidents in their homes. Ms. Bridges attended the kick-off event to share her story.

Learn more about this event, see new video public service announcements developed for this campaign.

Maria Figueroa

FSI0512The new issue of Fire Sprinkler Initiative News, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter, features a new partnership betweem NFPA and Green Builder® Media that will mean millions of people will learn about the environmental impact of fire sprinklers. We also look at exactly how fire sprinklers help protect the environment. We highlight important home fire sprinkler news from both Maryland and Minnesota, and feature a video interview about a new program in an Alaska community that offers homeowners a tax credit for installing 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.

Gaines_Portrait_smAn article in Fire Engineering by Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines provides an intricate look at the reality of flashover times, fire service response, and ominous factors that make it unlikely for persons to survive a fire in a home without fire sprinklers.

Citing numerous factors contributing to fire death and the reality of new home contents he adds; “The increased combustibility of home furnishings and decorative finishes create a situation where the likelihood that firefighters will be able to rescue you is remote if you are asleep at the time of the fire.” Chief Gaines provides a realistic oulook and a statistically based scenario.


Chief Gaines points out that the solution to this problem is the requirement of fire sprinklers in all new home construction, adding; “If we take an objective view at the reasons for this lack of movement toward a safe and effective solution, it cannot be anything other than the almighty dollar and political influence.”

Read this insightful article by Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines

Maria Figueroa

Citing safety concerns and new methods of construction Minnesota (MN) Governor Mark Dayton vetoed anti-sprinkler legislation. SF1717 would have prohibited local jurisdictions from requiring installation of automatic fire sprinklers in single family dwellings. The governor vetoed similar legislation last year.MN govDayton

In his veto message the governor reiterates his position and says, “As I stated in my veto message last year, I take very seriously the concerns which fire safety professionals have expressed about the safety of home residents, their properties, and the lives of the men and women who courageously risk their lives to fight those fires. They are concerned that newly built homes burn more quickly, and that more firefighters are injured when floors collapse during fires. They contend that, with sprinkler systems in place, fires could be more readily contained, resulting in fewer injuries and deaths to homeowners and firefighters.”

The inclusion of the requirement in the model code will soon be considered for adoption in the state. With this action the governor recognizes the code adoption process, not legislative action, as the venue where objections to the requirement are best handled.

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

Read Governor Dayton’s veto letter

Maria Figueroa

Recently, the State of Maryland enacted a bill that prohibits local authorities from weakening the fire and life safety standards by removing fire sprinkler requirements from the adopted code. There are mfigueroa@nfpa.orgnumerous documented examples of the life safety and other benefits of home fire sprinklers in the State of Maryland.

MDstatefiremarshalIn the most recent example a news release issued by the Maryland State Fire Marshal documents two fires during the month of April with very different outcomes. One home was protected with fire sprinklers and the other home was not equipped with the system. According to the report “…two home fires in St. Mary’s County exposed the value of residential fire sprinklers.  The outcome of both fires would likely be the same, if both homes had the protection afforded by these life saving systems.”

MDburnhouseAs reported, on April 6, 2012, a fire began at approximately 10:39 a.m. in a first floor bedroom of a two story wood frame home.  The fire progressed into the second floor and through the roof before being extinguished within thirty minutes by the Leonardtown, Hollywood and Bay District Volunteer Fire Departments.  No occupants were at home at the time of the fire.  Due to the extent of damage to the home, occupants will not be able to move back in for several months.  Damage is estimated at $300,000.

IMDunburnedn the second example, on April 25, 2012, a fire began at approximately 2:45 p.m. in the kitchen of a two story wood frame home. The fire began in a frying pan and was quickly extinguished by the automatic fire sprinkler system before the flames could grow out of control. The occupant of the home did not receive any injuries during the incident.  The kitchen received minor smoke damage, with some water damage in the kitchen and the basement of the home.  The occupants were not displaced as a result of the fire.  Damage is estimated at $20,000.

MDunburnedkitchenState Fire Marshal William E. Barnard stated, “This is yet another example of the effectiveness of the protections afforded by automatic fire sprinklers in residential occupancies.  Residential fire sprinklers save lives and property.”

Documenting and comparing fires in homes with and without fire sprinklers is extremely important to make the case for them. Maryland is able to do so readily because many jurisdictions have had fire sprinkler requirements in place for years. However, even if unable to compare because there are not enough homes in your community equipped with sprinklers, it is important to always include information about how much different the outcome would have been with fire sprinklers.

There is a need to raise awareness of the many benefits provided by these systems if we are to make the case for residential sprinklers. NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative provides the latest research, reports and statistics to equip advocates with the facts to support the requirement for home fire sprinklers.

Special thanks to Bruce D. Bouch, MD Deputy State Fire Marshal

 Maria Figueroa

Image1Over 190 graduates of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Office (EFO) Program gathered this weekend for what represents the official gathering for alumni. According to NFA this “battery charging” event is filled with new and reinforcing information with a spirited sense of renewal, as there is a great deal of work yet to accomplish.

This year the symposium will provide particular emphasis on renewing efforts regarding the installation of residential sprinklers along with the maintenance of early warning detection devices and systems.

NFPA’s Gregory Cade, Division Director, Government Affairs, and Tim Travers, Regional Fire Sprinkler Specialist presented a national perspective of the home fire sprinkler requirement in all new one- and two-family home construction. Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) conducted a side-by-side burn demonstration. HFSC's Peg Paul said this is a historic event. It is the first such demonstration ever conducted on the grounds of the NFA.

The symposium will, no doubt, provide these fire service leaders with the tools needed to advocate for home fire sprinklers in their communities.

Maria Figueroa HB366

Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) announced that on Wednesday, May 2, 2012, firefighters celebrated a major milestone in fire safety. A large contingent was in attendance at the Maryland State House as Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that will mandate the fire sprinkler provision required by the International Residential Code, 2012 edition. NFPA was present at the bill signing event, represented by Gregory Cade, Division  Director, Government Affairs, based in Washington, DC.

HB366, and its companion, SB602 prohibit local jurisdictions, with specified exceptions, from adopting local amendments to the Maryland Building Performance Standards if the local amendments weaken automatic fire sprinkler systems provisions contained in the Standards. Local jurisdictions will not be able to “opt out” of the requirement.

According to MSFA the first sprinkler requirements were enacted in Prince Georges County for multi-family dwellings in 1988. Several other counties and municipalities began requiring them throughout the early 2000’s. In 2005, President Lee Sachs of the Maryland state Firemen’s Association, along with the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office, the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association, the Fire and Burn Safety Coalition of Maryland, and several other groups concerned with fire safety; endeavored to support efforts to get residential sprinkler requirements throughout Maryland.  Prince Georges County has become a model for the nation for its successes with home fire sprinklers, demonstrating the life safety and property conservation benefits in a comprehensive report based on 15 years of data. adds: “With the signing of this Bill, Maryland will have taken a major step to provide for the protection of its citizens.”

Maria Figueroa

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