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NIFSABIn a previous post, I wrote about the battle raging in Illinois concerning retrofit of highrise residential buildings with fire sprinklers and the state fire marshal’s effort to update the code to also include fire sprinkler requirements in all new one- and two-family home construction, where Jim Shannon, president of NFPA, documented his support for the fire marshal’s efforts.

The battle is ongoing and now the non-profit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) is countering misinformation about home fire sprinklers, cited by opponents.  Tom Lia, executive director of NIFSAB says the organization “is working to get the facts straight about home fire sprinklers in relation to the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s filing of rule changes” that would update the state fire code with the current edition of NFPA 101: Life Safety Code®

According to Lia, "misinformation about home fire sprinkler costs and the supposed fire safety of today’s new homes is currently circulating among home builders and their associations, REALTORS® associations, and elected officials." Lia says that the above groups "are making false claims in press releases, letters to their members and constituents, and on their websites."

Citing the fact that there are 91 Illinois communities that currently have fire sprinkler requirements Lia said; “They are making false claims about the costs of installing home fire sprinklers, claiming they cost tens of thousands of dollars more per home than actual completion costs and will price homebuyers out of owning new homes…we have received actual costs from contractors who have recently completed projects in Illinois and the cost averages $2.38 per sprinklered square foot.”

A recent report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) counters the organization’s stance that fire sprinklers - which according to Lia add approximately 2% to building costs - will price homebuyers out of new homes. Said report states that homebuyers can now afford to pay 23% more for a new home than a property built before 1960 and still maintain the same amount of first-year annual costs.

The board also counters the arguments that today’s modern homes are safer due to smoke alarms and better construction practices. The latest statistics from NFPA find that 84 percent of residential fire deaths occur in one- and two-family homes.  A UL study showed that the lightweight engineered wood systems in today’s homes actually burn faster and fail sooner than the dimensional lumber systems in older homes. Today’s homes are filled with synthetic and/or petroleum-based furnishings that burn hotter and faster.

Lia also refers to another UL study comparing modern furnishings to legacy furnishings and the tenability of homes. The video that follows documents the results; the modern room transitioned to flashover - the temperature at which everything suddenly ignites in flames - in three and-a-half minutes and the legacy room in 29-and-a-half minutes.


“We support the state fire marshal and members of the Illinois fire service, especially the firefighters who risk their lives every time there is a fire call,” states Lia. “It’s time for people to hear the facts and quit being plagued with misinformation. We need to do what’s right so that no more fire deaths occur in Illinois.”

Download NIFSAB Press Release and Fact Sheet veteran and burn survivor J.R. Martinez teamed up with wounded Air Force veteran, Staff Sergeant Mike Malarsie, to participate in a recent satellite media tour that was orchestrated by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) to promote the importance of home fire sprinklers.

Sergeant Malarsie was permanently blinded when his foot patrol was ambushed in Afghanistan. Mike, his wife Jessie and their three young children live in a mortgage-free home made possible by Operation Finally Home. The home is protected with fire sprinklers.

The family is thrilled and relieved to have their home protected with fire sprinklers. Their three children are all under 4 years old. Mike also pointed out that he has a service dog and a pet dog that are now also protected.

The satellite media tour was funded through a State Farm grant. Automatic Fire Protection, Inc. donated the design and installation. Tyco donated the material.

“According to our preliminary report, we've reached more than 7.4 million (people)…,” said Peg Paul, director of communications for HFSC.

The Missourian reports that a comedic video advocating the use of home fire sprinklers, and posted to the Columbia Fire Department’s Facebook page has gone viral and has received views from across the world.

Missouri is one of the states that prohibits the adoption of fire sprinkler requirements for new homes and mandates that home builders offer the systems as an option. The video encourages the target consumer audience that they can choose to have a fire sprinkler system installed in their home.

The premise of the video, according to the article, is that having a fire sprinkler is "like having a firefighter in your home 24 hours a day." The video then imagines what it might be like to have a real firefighter in your home all of the time. The fire chief in the video concludes that it may be better to have fire sprinklers than having a real firefighter in your home.

 The video was posted on Tuesday afternoon and “has steadily grown in popularity in the two days since. Department officials credit the success of the video to people who enjoyed the video, and shared it on their personal profiles.” The total reach of the video has eclipsed 1 million, according to Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer. Total reach refers to the number of people who have had the video appear on their screen, whether they clicked on it or not.


!|src=|alt=13D|width=124|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=13D|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01910461927a970c|height=149!In this post we revisit aJournal article written by Matt Klaus, NFPA's principal fire protection engineer, where he explains the reasoning behind the fire sprinkler omission from certain areas in NFPA 13D: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.

Matt explains; "Everyone wants to save money, builders and building owners included. One way they can do that is to omit sprinklers from areas where the codes say it’s okay to leave them out. But it’s important to know precisely what those areas are."


!|src=|alt=Recesssedpendent|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Recesssedpendent|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901e6b9d10970b!NFPA 13D was developed with a singular fire protection goal: life safety. For this reason, there are several additional areas that can be unsprinklered, as fires in these areas are not linked to a loss of life.

NFPA 13D permits sprinklers to be omitted from bathrooms less than 55 square feet (5.1 square meters) and closets no larger than 24 square feet (2.2 square meters) in NFPA 13D systems. Nor are sprinklers required in NFPA 13D systems in attics, penthouse equipment rooms, elevator
machine rooms, and concealed spaces containing only dwelling unit ventilation equipment. Where fuel-fired equipment is present, at least one quick response sprinkler must be installed above the equipment.

NFPA 13D also permits some unique portions of one- and two-family dwellings to omit sprinklers. For example, sprinklers are not required in covered, unheated projections at the entrance and exit as long as the dwelling has another means of egress. In addition, sprinklers are not required in garages, attached porches, carports, and similar structures.

Matt concludes; "Ideally, all spaces within a structure would be provided with automatic sprinkler protection. However that simply isn’t possible. The NFPA technical committees that prepare the sprinkler documents have scrutinized areas from which sprinklers can be omitted and limited them to the greatest extent possible."

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!NFPA 13D 2013 update: Sloped-ceiling installations


NFPA is soliciting session proposals for the 2014 NFPA Conference & Expo, to be held June 9-12, in Las Vegas. The NFPA Conference & Expo is widely regarded as the most comprehensive event in the industry. With approximately 5,000 attendees, it is the year's largest and most important event for the fire protection, life safety, and electrical industries.

EdsessionIf you'd like to share your knowledge and best practices, we invite you to send us your session proposals in any of the following topic areas:

  • Electrical
  • Fire Protection Engineering
  • Fire and Emergency Services
  • Emergency Preparedness/Business Continuity
  • Building and Life Safety
  • Loss Control/Prevention
  • Detection and Notification
  • Fire Suppression
  • Green Initiatives
  • Public Education
  • Research

Deadline: Monday, September 16
All proposals must be submitted online.

This is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise, increase your exposure and visibility in your industry, add to your resume and your list of achievements, and meet valuable contacts and resources for your professional network. In addition, all speakers will receive a complimentary registration to the NFPA Conference & Expo.

The Fire Sprinkler Initiative (FSI) participated as an exhibitor at the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2013 County Solutions and Idea Marketplace recently held at the Ft. Worth, TX convention center.

This annual conference provides county officials with opportunities to vote on NACo’s policies related to federal legislation and regulation; network with colleagues; learn about innovative county programs; find out about issues impacting counties across the country; and view products and services from participating companies and exhibitors.

The booth was staffed by Fire Sprinkler Specialist Trim Travers and FSI Communications Project Manager Maria Figueroa. We shared important information on the life safety and other benefits of fire sprinkler systems and experienced extremely positive interactions with these crucial stakeholders in the home fire sprinkler debate.


Tim Travers shares important statistics with Washington County, NC Commissioner Tracey Johnson
Participating in this expo provides FSI an excellent opportunity to network with public officials and policy makers; many of whom are unaware that state legislatures have passed laws taking away local control to make the decision to adopt fire sprinkler requirements in new one- and two-family dwellings. Vila - the guru of home improvement and renovation - includes an article on his website touting the many benefits of home fire sprinklers and dispelling usual myths.

The article begins by citing the U.S. home fire problem and questioning why this life safety feature is not required for new homes. All national model codes include require fire sprinkler systems in all one- and two-family homes and townhomes, but it is up to states and local jurisdictions to include it in their adopted codes.

Common myths about home sprinkler systems are also cited as reasons that "prevent people from including one in their home;" such as the fear of a " misfiring sprinkler head and the belief that a room fire activates the entire system."

Long admired by many as an expert, his contribution with this article informing a wide range of consumers is vital to raise awarenes on the many benefits that home fire sprinklers provide.    

FiresprinklersidebysideAs reported by NBC 15 News, 26 people have died in fires in Wisconsin so far this year - a state record – and Watertown firefighters demonstrated the value of home fire sprinklers as “one simple way to save your family from a deadly fire.”

At a recent community safety fair, Watertown firefighters showed how quickly fire spreads, and how fast a home sprinkler system can put a fire out compared to a room without one; with a side-by-side live burn demonstration, built according to the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition kit.

"The thing we say all the time is, this is a firefighter in your house, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with a bucket of water ready to go,” said Robert Kleinheinz from the non-profit National Fire Sprinkler Association.


Visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition to learn how to conduct a side-by-side live burn demonstration in your community. the importance of fire sprinklers as a means to significantly reduce deaths and the costs of residential fires, the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) Board of Directors approved plans to offer a new accreditation program for installers of residential fire sprinkler systems.

Modeled on the accreditation model of the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), the new accreditation is entitled the “Residential Fire Sprinkler Contractor Accreditation” program.

Plumbing based system 1CPSE’s Paul Brooks, Executive Director, hailed the decision of the board by stating, “This program represents CPSE’s commitment to promoting the installation of fire sprinklers in all new dwelling construction as a means to save lives and property.  We are excited about this new venture for CPSE and the new partnerships we will build with the fire sprinkler industry.”

Participating companies will be evaluated in several categories. As with the CFAI accreditation model, companies will need to satisfy Core Competencies and Performance Indicators within each of the broad categories in order to achieve accreditation.

The Residential Fire Sprinkler Contractor Accreditation Program is designed to assure homeowners, state and local regulators and advocates for fire sprinklers in single-family dwelling structures that installations are completed by competent, professional companies who provide adequate training for installers and ensure the quality of their work.

Visit the CPSE site for additional information.


!|src=|alt=PatriotBuilderhome|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=PatriotBuilderhome|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef0192abf39bd9970d!

!|src=|alt=Patriot builders|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Patriot builders|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef0192abf3a157970d!Advocates in the State of Texas are being creative to increase the use of fire sprinklers in new home


After a series of discussions with Patriot Builders, LP  and Travis County planners, all new homes in Destiny Hills – Phase II, a development of 26 homes, will include anNFPA 13Dfire sprinkler system.


Texas is one of the states passing legislation prohibiting local jurisdictions from adopting home fire sprinkler requirements. It is for this reason that the requirement will be incorporated into the homeowner association’s restrictive covenant. Restrictive covenants are deed restrictions that affect a group of homes or lots in a specific development or subdivision and are included at the inception of the process by the developer/builder.

[Patriot Builders, LP |]is “primarily an Austin based custom home builder and real estate development company…serving the Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Georgetown, Cedar Park and Lakeway communities.” Their business philosophy, as stated on its website, “is to build your home with integrity while utilizing quality, skilled personnel.” Their commitment to the safety of their home buyers is additionally demonstrated by the inclusion of fire sprinkler systems in all new homes.

“One small step at a time,” said Chief John R. Durham, a home fire sprinkler advocate from Austin, TX. Because of strong opposition to the requirement, similar endeavors may need to start with something short and simple, as found in this particular initiative.

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said; “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” No journey is ever accomplished if it isn’t started. Starting something is by far the most difficult part. Once you get started, one step at a time – even one small step at a time as portrayed in this particular example - will get you to the finish line. Kudos to Chief Durham and all who made this happen.

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Ontario developer to include fire sprinklers in all his new projects

“We, as educators, need to make sure that residential fire sprinklers become another key ingredient in the messages we deliver.”
Antiliano Estrella has been a public educator and a member of the Providence Fire Department for twenty-two years. In this post, he shares his passion for educating the community and talks about public awareness of residential fire sprinklers.

The statement; “an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure,” is part of the ongoing recipe to keep our homes safe. One key ingredient that cannot be overlooked is to provide public awareness of residential fire sprinklers.

Our home provides shelter from the elements, keeps us warm, safe, gives us lasting memories, a place of celebration. It is one of the biggest investments we make in our lives; a unique place we call home. The place we feel the safest can also be dangerous.

Fire sprinklers respond quickly and effectively to a home fire. It makes sense to install home fire sprinklers; they save lives and property.  Fire sprinklers will help you survive a fire and significantly reduce property damage so that you can keep your home and continue living there as you did before.

Our focus is placed on preventing the fire from starting in first place and then surviving a fire. One of the biggest challenges we face in keeping our community safe in their homes is changing human behaviors around their living environment.  

For example; if someone has a kitchen fire, this traumatic experience can be a catalyst to changing behaviors. After the fire they may consider buying fire extinguishers, making sure smoke alarms work around the home, and never leaving food unattended.

Educators need to make sure that part of this behavioral change is the consideration of residential sprinklers. As educators we strive to make people aware of the fire problems around the home and hope we are influential enough to change behaviors.

I know that I am “preaching to the choir.” We, as educators, need to make sure that residential fire sprinklers become another key ingredient in the messages we deliver.

We have been so successful with smoke alarms, fire escape planning, cooking safety, and seasonal fire safety, among others. This has created a new generation of safer children and adults.

Fire and life safety education has drastically reduced fires in the last forty years. With your passion, I
know that we will continue to reduce the world wide burden of fire.

Residential fire sprinklers are nothing new. They have been around since the early 70’s. As we speak as one voice, we need to make sure that the home fire sprinkler message is one of those key ingredients in our presentations, outreach and campaigns. 

As a public fire and life safety educator and twenty-two year veteran of the Providence Fire Department, I am available to assist in answering questions regarding public awareness of home fire sprinklers; an ounce to add to your recipe of public education outreach.

NFPA provides a free home fire sprinkler educational tool kit to assist educators in their public education outreach campaigns.

Flush_4Residential fire sprinkler technology has greatly advanced and continues to do so, in order to meet consumer's needs. All major residential fire sprinkler manufacturers have developed horizontal sidewall sprinklers for home fire sprinkler system applications.

Sidewall fire sprinklers are ideal to use when it is difficult to access the ceiling or where freezing is a potential concern.

Most of the models available in the market feature a small, thermosensitive, glass bulb, sprinkler, available in various finishes and temperature ratings to meet diverse design requirements.

Optional finishes, in various colors, are available. Some manufacturers may be able to customize the finishes to match the colors of the wall where the sprinkler is installed.

Product manufacturers assert that "sidewall sprinklers can provide cost savings in certain situations where it is not economical to run piping across a room,"  and "provide the required residential flow rates at reduced pressures, enabling smaller pipe sizes and water supply requirements."

If you are interested in finding out more, an Internet search on "sidewall residential fire sprinklers" will provide additional information.

Sloped ceilingsThe performance of residential fire sprinklers with sloped or sloped and beamed ceilings continues to be an ongoing topic of interest. The Fire Protection Research Foundation published a report on the issue in 2012. A presentation at the recent NFPA Conference and Expo in Chicago, IL covered the subject.

Current test and design criteria for home fire sprinklers in one- and two-family dwellings (UL 1626 and 1626A) are limited to smooth, flat ceilings and sloped ceilings in specific limited configurations.

Local authorities have limited available design guidance for the large number of one- and two-family dwellings that are constructed with ceiling geometries that fall outside the scope of the current listings.

This report describes the results of an experimental and analytical study of the performance of residential sprinklers in home fires with a range of typical ceiling geometries. Its purpose is to provide the technical substantiation for design guidance in NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One and Two Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.

Read the free report

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