A parent's worst nightmare was realized earlier this month, when a fire at a Minneapolis duplex killed five children, ranging in age from 18 months to 8. The children's father and two of his other children escaped the fire.
In an op-ed for the Duluth News Tribune, George Esbensen, a Minnesota fire chief, weighs in on the tragedy and the U.S. home fire problem. "The very sad truth in America is that the most dangerous place to be, in terms of fire safety, is at home," he says. "Even more frustrating is that keeping people safe in their homes is not a new puzzle to be pieced together. The solutions are known and well-tested. Having working smoke alarms and fire sprinklers in place along with a practiced emergency exit strategy is nearly 100 percent effective in saving lives."
Esbensen commends recent efforts by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), which is updating its residential building code to include requirements for home fire sprinklers in new homes amid backlash from residential construction stakeholders. An administrative law judge recently concluded that DLI has the authority to adopt the proposals.
Despite DLI's efforts, Esbensen warns that sprinkler opponents will likely push for new legislation banning new requirements. "Join me in urging our elected officials to support the rulemaking process ... and allow safer construction of homes to be mandated so we can put a stop to the senseless deaths taking place right in our own homes."
Check out the NFPA Journal story highlighting DLI's sprinkler efforts in Minnesota.