An interesting email from a colleague recently landed in my inbox. I clicked on the link embedded in the body and was taken to a this-day-in-history page that highlighted a sprinkler save from 1939. A fire had apparently activated a sprinkler system at a Sears & Roebuck. The fire didn't amount to much, stated the report, but caused water damage.
Granted, this incident doesn't involve a house fire, but the story--now more than 75 years old--reminded me of recent news reports where the successes of a sprinkler save are sometimes downplayed in lieu of other details. What about the lives that were potentially saved? What about how sprinklers significantly reduce the amount of water gushing from a firefighter's hose during a fire? What about how quickly these systems operate during a fire and can prevent flashover?
Has the media become a hindrance to sprinkler advocacy efforts? Is the full story being reported? Perhaps media outlets are unaware of all of the facts.
Here's an example of a story where a reporter had done her homework. News station AM 1360 KUIK in Oregon highlighted details from the scene of a recent fire: its cause, the damage, the need for firefighters to fill a 3,000-gallon water tender with a hydrant four miles from the site. There were no victims.
What was more attention-grabbing than these bits was the story's final paragraph: "The house was not equipped with working home fire sprinklers, which could have prevented the fire from heavily damaging the house. Fire sprinklers are especially important in rural homes because it takes longer for firefighters to respond to incidents in remote areas. This is why the Cornelius Fire Department highly suggests home fire sprinklers be installed in any new homes being built, whether inside or outside the city limits."
What are your thoughts on the media's portrayal of residential sprinklers? What can be done to make sure sprinkler successes get the proper press? Click on the comment box and add your thoughts. We'd love to read them.