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LizA recent issue of Burn Support News, The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors’ newsletter, features a story written by Liz Dideon Hess; a burn survivor who became a home fire sprinkler advocate in her home state of Pennsylvania. Liz joined the fire service to advocate for the fire sprinkler mandate.

Liz became a member of the burn community when in 2003 she sustained her own burn injuries. For the past six years she has been the clinical social worker at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Regional Burn Center. She is also a Phoenix Society member, and is active in the burn camp community

As told by Liz, The Phoenix Society and the Pennsylvania firefighter community were instrumental in organizing a “storming of the capitol” and a press conference to rally support for the enforcement of the fire sprinkler mandate. She tells us that a small army of firefighters, burn center staff, burn survivors, and lobbyists visited senators and representatives and communicated the need for the mandate. She considers this joint effort as a powerful tool, adding; “as these groups were able to speak about the horrors of burn injuries, the emotional and financial costs of burn care, and the realities of being called to fight a structurally unsafe house fire.”

She tells us that she will continue to “work closely with the Phoenix Society to track home fire fatalities and burn injuries that could have been prevented had fire sprinklers been mandated. In addition, our burn center staff who got involved to prevent the horrible injuries they have to deal with on a daily basis report feeling encouraged to have had the opportunity to be proactive about burns.”

She argues that “people whose lives have been or will be directly affected by the law have an even greater responsibility to educate and provide insight to the leaders of this nation” and implores burn survivors to get involved at the state and national level, adding; “regardless of the outcome, advocating for a worthy cause is always worthwhile!”

Liz’s story is found on page 8 of Burn Support News

Maria Figueroa

WalesAn article in  reports that the country of Wales, UK has officially enacted a requirement for fire sprinklers in all new homes. The law "supported by the Fire Brigades Union and various sprinkler campaigners, will apply to all new homes built in Wales as well as new care homes and university halls of residence" with an implementation date of September 2013.

On February 16, 2011 Welsh Assembly members voted in favor of the law that compels house builders to fit automatic sprinklers into new homes built in Wales.

The Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure was introduced by Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones who explains; “This is a law that will save lives.” Mrs. Jones adds; “Fire safety in homes has improved over the years but we cannot ignore the fact that 80 per cent of deaths and injuries from fire in Wales still occur in the home...the evidence backs this up, that sprinkler systems in homes will make a difference in this area.”

The measure needed to be approved by the Privy Council, and that occured on April 7, 2011. With this action Wales becomes the first coun to require fire sprinklers in all new homes. Here's hope that the U.S. is not too far behind and that every state in the U.S. adopts mandatory home fire sprinkler systems for all new home construction.

Maria Figueroa

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