A 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!”