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Keeping_Your_Community_Safe_With_SprinklersOne of the goals of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative is to give advocates the tools they need to convince local governments to mandate fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes. Detailed recommendations for effective advocacy are found on this section of the FSI website.

What follows is an overview of the recommendations:

  • Be informed – make sure you are aware of the current environment surrounding the issue
  • Build a coalition – reach out to other fire sprinkler advocates in your community to build a strong grassroots effort
  • Show support for your cause - begin showing local elected officials the breadth of support for home fire sprinklers through as many avenues as possible.
  • Public outreach - NFPA has developed one comprehensive kit that will enable you to reach the public, and raise awareness of this life saving technology. Op-eds are also a  powerful way to get your message across, especially when written effectively. Read more tips for using op-eds to make your case for home fire sprinklers.
  • Reach decision makers – the most important part will be convincing local elected officials that this is a life and death issue. See NFPA's list of sprinkler fact sheets for more information.

Read more tips for communicating with legislators to make your case for home fire sprinklers.

See more free NFPA resources to help you educate your community about home fire sprinklers

Visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition website to obtain free educational tools aimed at local officials.

Maria Figueroa


Photo: Matt Ryan, Burlington Free Press

According to a report on, the chief of the Colchester Center (VT) Fire Company is re-issuing his call for local lawmakers to require automatic sprinkler systems in new homes. This comes after crews spent nearly six hour battling a blaze that eventually destroyed a local home.

The fire started in a shop room, but officials have yet to determine the cause, Chief Mike Chmielewski told the newspaper. “If they had residential sprinklers, the house would probably be standing today,” he said.

The report says that last October, local lawmakers shelved the fire chiefs’ proposal because opponents questioned the relative benefits of sprinklers and said the sprinkler mandate would have boosted the cost of new housing. According to a report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the cost of installing sprinkler systems to the home builder averages $1.61 per sprinklered square foot.

Read the full news report on

- Mike Hazell

Princella Lee Bridges of Greenville, SC, was severly burned in a home fire in 1992, received burns on 49 percent of her body. During a recent presentation at NFPA headquaters, Princella talked about how her personal experience with home fire prompted her to become an advocate for fire safety education and home fire sprinklers.

Princella is featured as one of NFPA's "Faces of Fire", a campaign designed to showcase real people telling personal stories to demonstrate the need for sprinklers. Learn more about the "Faces of Fire" campaign and NFPA's efforts to promote the installation of sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes.

Firefighters in actionNFPA recently released a new report analyzing volunteer firefighter injuries for the years 2009-2011. This report provides interesting insight on the different challenges that volunteer firefighters face.

An Analysis of Volunteer Firefighter Injuries, 2009-2011, compares the experience of volunteer firefighters to all firefighter injuries reported in the NFPA Annual Firefighter Injury Report. The injury statistics in that report combine career and volunteer firefighters.

Several observations are worth noting. For injuries by type of duty, volunteers (56.6%) were more likely to receive injuries at the fireground than all firefighters combined (43.3%) A factor contributing to the wound, cut, etc. injuries and the injuries due to frostbite, or heat stroke is that departments protecting smaller communities were less likely to have adequate or up to date personal protective equipment than departments protecting larger communities.

Also at the fireground, smoke or gas inhalation accounted for a higher percentage of injuries for volunteers (9.8%) than for all firefighters combined (4.9%). Again, departments protecting smaller communities were less likely to have adequate or up to date SCBA equipment than departments protecting larger communities.

RecesssedpendentAn article in the Cumberland Times-News reports that the City of Frostburg’s mayor and city council voted unanimously in favor of the home fire sprinkler mandate and designed an attractive incentive package for homebuilders, effective July 1, 2012. With this action, city leaders reversed an earlier vote to opt-out of the state’s requirement to install fire sprinkler systems in all new one- and two-family homes.

As reported by Cumberland Times-News, fire officials had pleaded with local leaders to make the installation of sprinkler systems law, quoting Frostburg Fire Volunteer Department President Gary Tummino; “As firefighters, our only advantage is time, and anything that can help us to prevent the loss of life and property is important...We are proud of the mayor and council for being proactive in this and protecting the citizens of our town.”

According to the article, the Council also unanimously approved the Residential Sprinkler System Incentive Program 2012 to try to attract “as many new construction projects for one- and two-unit residential projects as is possible.”

The incentives include:

  • $1,000 reimbursement of the standard water connection fee, which typically costs from $1,500 to $1,800. 
  • Real estate taxes would also be significantly reduced for three years, with the city receiving taxes for the value of the land and only 20 percent of new construction.

In April, the Frostburg Council voted 3-2 to opt out of the state’s requirement but quickly reconsidered because of strong opposition from fire department officials. There is another reason for reconsidering; as reported here earlier this month, the State of Maryland enacted in to law HB366, and its companion, SB602 prohibiting 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 no longer be able to “opt out” of the requirement.

Incentives are considered an important tool to further bring down the price of home fire sprinkler systems. The Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment study concluded that when incentives were applied the cost of the systems reviewed for the study averaged $1.49 per sq. ft. Another study, Incentives for the Use of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems in U.S. Communities, by the Fire Protection Research Foundation revealed that incentives typically offered by jurisdictions are likely to offset 1/3 of the system’s cost. As jurisdictions continue to move towards providing incentives the cost of home fire sprinklers systems are likely to continue to decrease.

Maria Figueroa

The nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition Logo 001(HFSC) informs that it has been awarded a 2011 federal Fire Prevention and Safety Grant that will be used to help U.S. fire departments conduct more local educational outreach and to increase consumer interest in the life safety benefits of home fire sprinkler systems.

Key to HFSC’s grant award are fire department stipends that will underwrite local fire sprinkler educational activities.

Through highly targeted activities, the federal award will also supplement HFSC’s longstanding national efforts, capitalizing on the growing numbers of consumers using the Internet, with new, free, electronic programming that will simplify sprinkler technology and dispel common myths, encouraging more homeowners to ask for home fire sprinklers.

The Fire Prevention & Safety Grant funding was awarded to HFSC through the Grant Programs Directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  “Every homeowner deserves to have factual information about the life safety benefits of residential fire sprinklers,”says HFSC Chair Gary Keith. 

HFSC will offer the fire sprinkler education stipends and other grant-funded materials to members of the Built for Life Fire Department® Program (BFLFD), which is a free service to fire departments that are committed to teaching about home fire sprinkler protection in their service areas. 

To sign up for the BFLFD Program and to learn about the grant activities, please visit HFSC online or contact Peg Paul. I watched a multi-million dollar home and two other homes burn on live TV this week I continue to wonder why the citizens and the fire service do not stand for something different. The Seattle Fire Department needed help from several other departments in the area and they all did a great job.


The funny part of this story is; I wonder how many of us even knew that we had two sprinkler saves in WA that saved millions of dollars and kept 20 or 30 people from being displaced from their homes?

The sad fact is a multi-million dollar house burns to the ground makes the headlines; the fact that we could save millions dollars with home fire sprinklers does not even make the news!!!! This is the reason why I love to share our stories with you, because they are out there happening every day.

Rogers GGreg Rogers is chair of the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition and he wants you to e-mail him your stories. Big or small, he wants to hear from you!

Visit the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition website to learn how home fire sprinklers save lives, protect property and benefit the environment.


For additional information on the current state of the home fire sprinkler requirement in the State of Washington contact Jeffery Hudson, NFPA Regional Fire Sprinkler Specialist

Residents of two Washington communities have a chance to see, first-hand, the power of home fire sprinklers this week.

On Tuesday, March 27, Fire Team USA will demonstrate the dramatic effects of home sprinklers with a side-by-side comparison burn at the conclusion of a free workshop at Snohomish County Fire District 1 Headquarters and Training Tower in South Everett. According to an article in The Edmonds Beacon, the side-by-side comparison of fire in a room with a sprinkler and a room without a sprinkler will take place around 4 pm at the training tower.

Participants will learn the basics of how sprinklers work, explore current public policy, discuss how community planning affects fire protection and learn about local resources.

"In the event of a home fire, sprinklers respond quickly, giving families valuable time to get to safety.  Many places of employment, education and businesses are already protected by sprinklers. The place where you and your family sleep should be protected by fire sprinklers," Greg Rogers, chair of the Washington Sprinkler Coalition, told The Edmonds Beacon.

And on Thursday, March 29, residents of Vancouver are invited to see how home fire sprinklers work and learn about their costs and benefits during a free, one-day workshop at the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office, near the Clark County Fairgrounds. According to a report on the Clark County web site, the event is sponsored by the Fire Marshal’s Office in cooperation with the Western States Fire Protection Co. and Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board of Puget Sound.

“We promote residential sprinklers because the risk of dying in a home fire is cut by 80 percent when sprinklers are used,” said Jon Dunaway, Clark County Fire Marshal.

Have you ever seen a side-by-side sprinkler demonstration? Here's video of a demonstration recently hosted by NFPA that shows how quickly flashover can occur and how home fire sprinklers can give you and your family time to evacuate.


A residential fire sprinkler saves four children's lives and property in Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada. The fire started in the kitchen when the children were using a butane canister to heat a pot of oil causing an explosion and starting the fire.

Port Coquitlam Fire Department official Terry Hotchstetter credits the home fire sprinkler system with controlling the fire, which could have easily claimed the lives of the children. View the story here:


Fire sprinklers save lives!

Maria Figueroa

Unattended cooking after a power outage sparked a fire that erupted in a third floor unit of the 68 unit, four story student housing building at Carolina Coastal University (CCU) in Conway, SC last Saturday evening. The fire was quickly extinguished by a fire sprinkler system, saving lives and property


Entire kitchen
Picture shows extent of damage; fire sprinkler pattern observed in the ceiling
When the fire department arrived the fire was already out. No one was hurt. Two sprinklers activated - one in the kitchen and the other in the living room – keeping the fire damage to the compartment of origin. Water damage affected the unit involved, two below, and the first floor adjacent units. The fire damage would have been a lot worse, and lives could have been lost, if not for this successful fire sprinkler activation.

In contrast to the above, Les Woods, President of SC Fire and Life Safety Education Association (SC FALSE), noted that at the time of this fire its side-by-side burn demonstration team was gearing up for an educational event in Oconee County where three people have lost their lives in residential fires in the last four weeks. He indicated that SC State Fire Marshal Chief Shane Ray pointed out to the audience at that event that fires have claimed 63 lives in SC this year. Fire sprinkler systems could have made a difference.

Visit the SC Fire Sprinkler Coalition website to learn how to advocate for fire sprinkler system requirements in SC.



Posted by ryan.quinn Employee Jan 26, 2013 a recent blog post Pat Morrison, the Assistant to the General President for Education, Training and Human Relations at the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) stresses the importance of fire service involvement in the building codes process. He cites new lightweight construction methods and the home fire sprinkler requirement as reasons the fire service needs to get involved. house

“Building codes affect fire fighter safety every day, but too often fire departments and fire fighters don’t understand why it’s important to participate in the building code development process,” said Morrison

He announced that IAFF is launching a fire prevention and safety project “designed to increase awareness and encourage active fire service involvement in developing and passing new building and fire codes, as well as promoting enforcement.”

Morrison reminds us that fire fighters remain at high risk due to modern methods of construction involving lightweight materials, coupled with the fact that "many states have yet to mandate residential fire sprinklers, posing an increased threat to fire fighters in these jurisdictions.” He quotes IAFF President Harold Schaitberger; “We must take ownership of our work environment, and the buildings we respond to and operate in.”

One way that the fire service can get involved is to participate in NFPA’s technical committees. NFPA is recruiting enforcers for various technical committees currently seeking new members.

Visit the firefighters resource page to obtain a free presentation on the threats of lightweight construction methods.

MDfiremarshalThe Cumberland Times-News reports that the preliminary data concerning the number of fatal fires investigated by or reported to the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal indicates a significant decrease in fire-related deaths as compared to fire deaths in 2011 and below the previous record low in 2006-2008.

Fire sprinklers in all new home construction have been required in many communities in MD since 1992. The state adopted the requirement in all new one- and two-family home construction in 2011.

Fire sprinklers are a major factor that contributes to the downward trend in fire related deaths. If you have a fire in your home, your risk of death decreases by about 80% when fire sprinklers are present. We should continue to see the downward trend in fire deaths in communities that adopt fire sprinklers as a requirement in all new home construction.

The Alsip Fire Department recently conducted a side-by-side burn demonstration underscoring the importance of home fire sprinklers in protecting lives and property. Chicago’s WGN Around Town segment featured the activity.

The coverage includes two videos with narrative. Alsip’s chief did a great job with the narration. It was obvious that the interviewer from WGN was thoroughly briefed when she said;  "Having fire sprinklers is like having a fire fighter standing guard in your home." burn
A live burn demonstration is one of the most effective community awareness activity. It is the best way to illustrate the power of fire and the effectiveness of home fire sprinklers.

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition provides a free fire and sprinkler burn demonstration kit and awards stipends to conduct the burns to members of the Built for Life fire department program.

Action will lead to substandard homes in Commonwealth


MA Chief Paul Zbikowski
Chief Paul J. Zbikowski, president, Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, spoke at a Massachusetts press conference before the BBRS hearing in the fall.

Fire chiefs from across the Commonwealth expressed outrage and disappointment at the recent vote by the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards to defeat a proposal that would have amended the Massachusetts One and Two Family Building Code to allow for home fire sprinklers.

“The BBRS is letting down the people of Massachusetts today and for generations to come by allowing substandard homes to be built in Massachusetts,” said Ashburnham Chief Paul Zbikowski, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts (FCAM) in a press release issued today. “Not only are they ignoring the minimum level of safety established by model codes, they are putting our firefighters unnecessarily in harms way.”

All national model building codes include the requirement for fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. The BBRS promulgated a building code for the Commonwealth in August and omitted the provision to require home fire sprinklers in new construction. The state fire marshal filed a proposal to allow local communities to be able to set the requirement if they chose to do so which the BBRS defeated at a February 14th meeting.

FCAM joined every other fire service organization in the state to support the inclusion of home fire sprinklers in the MA code.

According to the non-profit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the risk of dying in a home fire decreases by more than 80 percent with sprinklers and property damage is reduced by 74 percent. Massachusetts statistics show that in the last decade there have been more than 54,000 fires in one- and two-family homes in Massachusetts. These fires injured more than 2,300 firefighters and 1,500 civilians, and caused more than 753 million dollars in property loss. Forty percent of all firefighter injuries happen in one- and two-family homes.

“These staggering statistics aren’t just numbers. Behind every digit is a human being that has been tragically effected by fire,” said Chief Zbikowski. “Today we have the technological means to do better by adding sprinklers in homes and we should.”

Home fire sprinklers: Proposal denied:

For more information visits

In an NFPA Journal column Matt Klaus, Senior Fire Protection Engineer at NFPA, answers questions about the new Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) that were issued at the August 2012 meeting of the Standards Council addressing requirements and alternatives to antifreeze solutions in fire sprinkler systems.

Matt explains that the NFPA technical committees responsible for writing NFPA 13, NFPA 13R and NFPA 13D created new requirements that mandate the use of “listed” antifreeze solutions for new system designs. The critical component of the listing is that it needs to indicate that the solution will not ignite when discharged from a sprinkler, essentially prohibiting the use of propylene glycol and glycerin, which are not listed.

Matt tell us that for new NFPA 13D systems in single family homes the AHJ may approve a traditional solution, glycerin or propylene glycol at a specified limit, provided that documentation is submitted by the designer showing why it is acceptable. For existing NFPA 13D systems the old rule from the March 2011 TIA are still in play and existing systems will be permitted to use propylene glycol and glycerin at the limits established in the TIA.


Other alternatives to antifreeze solutions include insulation or heaters. Insulating sprinkler piping runs in walls, interstitial spaces, and attics is common in wood-framed buildings, especially where NFPA 13R and NFPA 13D systems are installed. Matt reminds us that it is important to install the insulation so it cannot be easily altered, compromising its thermal resistance properties and potentially leading to frozen pipes. This is fairly easy to accomplish in walls and concealed spaces where there is limited access, but it can be trickier in attics.

Read the literature review of insulation and sprinkler piping from the Fire Protection Research Foundation.

IAFCDue to the increased danger lightweight construction poses to firefighters the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) supports the need of fire sprinklers in new homes.

IAFC was an early supporter of the home fire sprinkler requirement. In 2010 this was affirmed when the Fire & Life Safety Section Board of Directors submitted a position paper  - that called for the inclusion of fire sprinklers in new homes - to the IAFC Board and it was subsequently approved; officially documenting support for fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes.

As fire service advocates communicate the need for these requirements at the state and local level. It is important to know that they have the backing of major organizations, such as the IAFC.

Visit the firefighters resource page to obtain a free presentation on the threats of lightweight construction methods.

With funding from State Farm Insurance, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) sponsored the installation of fire sprinklers in the new home of Senior Airman Michael Malarsie who was severely wounded in Afghanistan.

Malarsie, who became blind as a result of his injuries, was selected to have a home free of cost by Operation Finally Home, a program that provides custom made homes to wounded and disabled veterans, who have served in the Iraq or Afghanistan war.

Automatic Fire Protection donated the design and installation and Tyco donated the material. The system was installed this week and construction of the house will hopefully be finished around the holidays, so the family can celebrate in their brand new home. Finally Home Texas

Ultimate Surprises teamed up with JR Martinez, spokesperson for Operation Finally Home, and with Tilson Homes to give Michael and his family the surprise of their life. Watch the inspirational video that follows:


Lightweight houseLightweigh construction places the lives of home occupants and firefighters in great jeopardy in the event of fire in the home. Engineered wood truss and floor designs collapse faster and burn quicker than dimensional construction. Homes built with lightweight construction need the protection of fire sprinklers to offset the dangers posed by these structures when exposed to fire.

According to the Centers for Disease Control/NIOSH Alert more than 60% of roof structures in the U.S. are constructed with lightweight wood truss construction techniques. Why is engineered wood so widely used? Because it is considered a green alternative to dimensional lumber and it greatly reduces the cost of construction.

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) ‘…wood-efficient home building is a "win-win" opportunity for building industry professionals and the environment. Building industry professionals can save money and time by building more efficiently.’

In its handbook; Efficient Wood Use in Residential Construction: A Practical Guide to Saving Wood, Money, and Forests, the NRDC asserts that when the costs of engineered wood is compared with the costs of traditional construction methods, the cost savings are significant. Keep in mind that this handbook was written in 1998. The cost savings adjusted for inflation in today’s dollars would be significantly more.

NRDC lists the following advantages:

  • Trusses and panels ("components") can save 250 hours on the job site and save more than $3,300 per house.
  • Stressed-skin panels can improve a builder's productivity -- and profitability -- by 16 percent. One crew, building four houses per year, can increase annual profits by $5,900.
  • Optimum value engineering can reduce framing wood costs by $700 to $3,400 per house or as much as $1.20 per square foot.

When you add the alleged savings listed by NRDC: Wouldn’t it be more than enough to cover the installation of a fire sprinkler system?

A the time that the NRDC handbook was published it claimed that “…one California project, using optimum value engineering, trusses, and certified wood together saved more than $4,800.” The savings, in today’s dollars, is approximately $6,500.

Over the years home builders have reaped the efficiency and costs benefits of lightweight construction methods. Isn’t it time to pass on some of those benefits to home buyers and firefighters by building safer homes that are protected with fire sprinkler systems?

BuiltforLifeTheHuttoNews reports that Hutto Fire Rescue has launched a new initiative this fall aimed at educating the public about the savings — both in lives and dollars — afforded by home fire sprinkler systems.

The article quotes Hutto Fire Rescue Chief Scott Kerwood: “There’s a lot of misinformation out there...what we’re trying to do is to start to educate the public about the benefits of home fire sprinklers.”

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) has named Hutto Fire Rescue a Built for Life® Fire Department for this effort. The department received a certificate and other recognition from HFSC and will continue to distribute educational materials to support local home fire sprinkler outreach.

In 2009 the State of Texas passed SB1410, legislation prohibiting local jurisdictions from requiring fire sprinklers in homes. “All we can really do at this point is public service announcements and information and bringing to people’s attention,” Kerwood said.

Visit HFSC to obtain information about the Built for Life® Fire Department program

SprinklerIMpactSince the widespread introduction of home fire sprinklers, a significant amount of statistical data has been collected and analyzed showing their impact in reducing rates per fire of fire deaths and property damage. However, the same fire statistics until recently did not address reductions in rates of fire injuries associated with home fire sprinklers.

This project was initiated to develop better estimates of the impact of home sprinklers on fire injury costs, using a more sophisticated approach which explores the impact of sprinklers on fire size, the impact of fire size on burn and other fire related injury, and then assesses the data available on the costs associated with those injuries.

Download the fact sheet

What should have been just a routine knockdown of a house fire on August 7, 2007, quickly became a catastrophic event for Hall County, GA firefighter Angie Roach. She is featured in a new Faces of Fire PSA.


Roach fell through the floor into the burning basement of the home. She was trapped and unable to free herself. She made a conscious decision to lie still on the burning embers so that her PASS alarm could activate and her fellow firefighters could locate her.

She suffered 3rd degree and 4th degree burns over 45 percent of her body. It was the worst on-the-job injury any Hall County firefighter had experienced. Angie remembers thinking while trapped that she wasn’t afraid to die, but was angry and sad that she may not see her daughters get married or be a grandmother.

After the incident, it took Angie a while to realize that she was not the same person she was before this happened. The fire had taken away her independence and the ability to continue in a career she loved. She fervently believes that a fire sprinkler system would have prevented this tragedy.
In December 2012, we embarked on a quest to find out what the readers of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative (FSI) Newsletter liked/or didn't like about it and to determine areas of interest and topics that we could feature in the future.

We accomplished the above with a survey, which we sent to 3,000 random subscribers, and also included a link to the survey in the December 2012 FSI newsletter. As an incentive we entered those who provided contact information in a drawing for a flip video camera. The camera is on its way to the winner from Township of Falls, PA

We are grateful for the excellent response we received. Overall, we found out that you are pleased with what we are doing. All your comments were extremely helpful and we will work dilligently to incorporate your suggestions and provide the information you told us you wanted to see in our monthly newsletter. On top of the topics that we cover on a regular basis, we will strive to provide increased and timely information in the following areas:

  • Technology
  • Codes and standards
  • Legislation/Adoptions
  • International news
  • Fire incidents/sprinkler saves

We have one more favor to ask. We find that our readers and filed advocates are one of the best sources of information. Please help us to identify stories/items of interest regarding home fire sprinklers as you come across them in your daily/work life. Contact us and let us know.


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