Skip navigation
All Places > FSI > Blog > 2014 > November


November 2014 Previous month Next month

Larry Iseminger Jr.
Maryland, one of two states with statewide sprinkler requirements (California is the other), has seen a 20-percent decrease in fire fatalities in 2014 over last year. That's a decline from 55 fire deaths in 2013 to 44 this year. 

"Maryland's fire service is cautiously optimistic with this year's data," said State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci in a news release. "Everyone must remain vigilant in their fire prevention efforts to continue this trend. An estimated 80 percent of all structure fires in Maryland occur in what most assume to be the safest places--our homes."

The state has participated in a number of smoke alarm donation programs this year, and is apparently seeing successes from deciding to enact sprinkler requirements in all of Maryland's counties. Geraci's office reports that there hasn't been a single fire fatality in any of the state's sprinklered homes. 

Highlighting these sprinkler successes during NFPA's recent Home Fire Sprinkler Summit was Larry Iseminger, Jr., chief fire protection engineer at the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office. In Prince George's County, for example, there are more than 60,000 sprinklered homes. Four hundred fires have occurred in these homes since a sprinkler ordinance took effect, but no lives have been lost from fire.

Learn more interesting facts about Maryland by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site and watching the following video of Iseminger highlighting the state's sprinkler requirements:


!|border=0|src=|alt=Ruth Balser|style=display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;|title=Ruth Balser|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c70fbb2c970b image-full img-responsive!
During NFPA's recent Home Fire Sprinkler Summit, Massachusetts State Representative Ruth Balser gave tips on how to convince state legislators that home fire sprinklers are a crucial, life-safety component in new homes.

Balser has been a vocal sprinkler supporter ever since a tragic fire in her district killed five people. Developing a close relationship with the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal, she became increasingly aware of the frequency of home fire deaths and has introduced legislation in support of sprinklers in these settings.


Balser recommends that sprinkler advocates should establish relationships with their legislator and constantly press them to take a stance in support of sprinklers. (Make a convincing case by utilizing the Fire Sprinkler Initiative's advocacy tools.) Informing elected officials that sprinklers protect emergency responders should be part of your pitch, she added. "This argument has to be made loud and clear: we have a responsibility to the people that go into those burning buildings," she told summit attendees.


Stanley Briers, another summit speaker who has spent years navigating the legislative process in Texas, also stressed that advocates need to develop relationships with legislators before you reach out to them for sprinkler-related efforts. "They might not remember our names, but they remember our faces," he said. 


Get additional tips from Balser, Briers, and other summit presenters by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!NFPA hosts home fire sprinkler summit in Raleigh


!|src=|alt=Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c70ec07e970b img-responsive!Boston-based readers: Have you heard the radio commercials on home fire sprinklers now playing on some of the city's local stations? 


The Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition has sponsored two radio announcements highlighting NFPA's statistics on home fires, the effectiveness of sprinklers, and home insurance discounts. The radio spots can be heard on 97.7 and 107.3 WAAF; 93.7 WEEI; and AM 680 WRKO. Spread the word!


Whether or not you're from Beantown, you can listen to the commercials by visiting the coalition's website, which also highlights the successes of having a unified voice in support of home fire sprinklers. 


See if your state has a sprinkler coalition. If it doesn't, contact NFPA and learn how we can help you get one started.

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!The Boston Globe underscores need for home fire sprinklers

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!NFPA summit highlights state and local home fire sprinkler initiatives

Live burn and sprinkler demonstration
"A lot of people have the wrong priorities; you go into a home and they have a 90-inch TV but don't have a smoke detector," said a Michigan fire official recently interviewed by a local ABC affiliate. 

Michigan Fire Sprinkler CoalitionHe and others from the Detroit Fire Department worked the press during a news segment underscoring both smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers. Against the backdrop of a live burn and sprinkler demonstration, sprinkler advocates addressed the 80-percent-risk-reduction rate of fire deaths when
sprinklers are present in homes. The report also tackles sprinkler installation costs, which averages out
to about one percent of the cost of a new home. Watch the full story for additional details. 

A growing number of safety advocates in Michigan with similar mindsets about home fire sprinklers are joining forces to promote these devices and mandatory requirements for installation. Check out the Michigan Fire Sprinkler Coalition website for more information. 

2014 Home Fire Sprinkler Summit
Showcasing a strength-in-numbers approach to sprinkler advocacy, more than 60 safety advocates from across North America met in Durham, North Carolina, last week for NFPA's Home Fire Sprinkler Summit. The event showcased a growing movement in support of home fire sprinkler requirements and gave advocates on the front lines the materials and tactics necessary to make these requirements a reality. 

Visit NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site for the highlights, including:

Visit the Fire Sprinkler site for additional presentation synopses.


!|src=|alt=Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalition|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalition|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d09383b5970c img-responsive!An Oregon fire marshal has made such a convincing case for home fire sprinklers that an Oregon mayor and city council are considering requirements in new homes.   


The +Mail Tribune+ reports that the city of Medford's mayor, Gary Wheeler, received a recommendation to sprinkler all new, one- and two-family homes from Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg. Noting that competition will eventually drive down sprinker installation costs (a point highlighted in NFPA's recent sprinkler cost study report ), Kleinberg's recommendation seems to have gotten the attention of Wheeler, who told the paper, "You can't put a price on a child."

Kleinberg also noted that Medford has averaged 82 fires a year over the past five years, the majority occurring in one- and two-family dwellings. Of the 22 fire-related deaths over the past 25 years, Kleinberg said sprinklers could have prevented 17 of those deaths. 

"Our experience is that older homes have the problems," a representative from the Jackson County Homebuilders Association told the paper. "Many homes today are extremely safe."


Not so, say fire officials, who note that today's lightweight construction materials, upholstered furnishings filling homes, and room layouts all exacerbate fire spread. "We're packing our houses full of fuel," said Kleinberg. 


For those in Oregon, please show your support for this recommendation by utilizing the advocacy materials available through NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative. Write an op-ed or contact elected officials utilizing NFPA's talking points on sprinklers. Also consider joining the Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

For those in other states, please make the same pitch for sprinklers to your legislators or code-adopting bodies. Let us know how we can help! 


!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire officials in Florida to examine sprinkler ordinance

Stanley Briers

Stanley Briers of the Texas Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Mechanical Contractors Association, and a member of the Texas Fire Sprinkler Coalition, spoke about his experience in navigating the legislative process.

Fred Durso Peg Paul

Fred Durso of NFPA and Peg Paul from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition spoke about the free sprinkler advocacy materials offered by the two organizations. 

John Pizzi

John Pizzi, president of the Fire Prevention Association of Massachusetts, makes a point during a group discussion.

Tim Travers

Tim Travers, NFPA Residential Fire Sprinkler Specialist, addressed some of the common myths about home fire sprinklers, issues such as cost (the national average for installation in new homes is $1.35 per sprinklered square foot) and sprinkler activation (only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate). See more sprinkler myths

Larry Iseminger

Larry Iseminger, Chief Fire Protection Engineer for the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal, provided a history of fire sprinkler regulations in Maryland. He said that in Prince George's County alone, which has required sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes since 1992, there are more than 60,000 sprinklered homes. In the past 22 years, there have been 400 fires in sprinklered homes, but no fire deaths in those homes. 

JIm Pauley speaks at FSI summit
Sprinkler advocates from across the U.S. and Canada received a motivational jolt this week during NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative Summit in Durham, North Carolina. Addressing the crowd of more than 60 attendees, NFPA President Jim Pauley underscored grassroots efforts occurring in North America that spotlight the importance of home fire sprinklers and how this work is creating a wave of support for sprinkler requirements in new homes. 

"NFPA knows it can't be everywhere," Pauley told attendees, some of them members of the 21 state sprinkler coalitions that have formed over the years. "We know the work gets done by people on the street--and that's you."

This type of sprinkler education and advocacy, added Pauley, has led to statewide sprinkler requirements in California and Maryland. Using a one-community-at-a-time approach to sprinkler code adoption, Illinois has close to 100 communities with sprinkler requirements on the books.

While showcasing a strength-in-numbers approach toward acquiring sprinkler requirements, Pauley also praised the power of the individual's voice. One of the summit's speakers, for example, was burn survivor Pam Elliott, who was recently honored by NFPA and other fire safety groups for her pointed op-ed on home fire sprinklers. "Pam shows us that one voice can begin to make a difference and affect change."

Ruth Balser
Massachusetts State Representative Ruth Balser is a longtime proponent of home fire sprinklers. During today’s NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative summit in Durham, Rep. Balser said a key to getting things accomplished is building relationships and offered tips on how to best communicate with lawmakers. She also underscored the value of a strong coalition and local media involvement in successful advocacy efforts. “At the end of the day, many home fire deaths are preventable. And yes, sprinklers have a cost, but how do you put a cost on a human life?” she said.

Pam Elliott 2

Pam Elliott's voice has become a powerful tool in the push for sprinkler requirements. Burned over 50% of her body during a house fire when she was five years old, she has turned her personal tragedy into a national campaign for home fire safety. 

Elliott was a featured speaker at NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative summit in Durham on November 13. “I’m here to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves and those most vulnerable in house fires: infants, children, the elderly, and the disabled,” says Elliott, a part-time nurse at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, NC. 

Elliot, who recently joined the newly-formed North Carolina Fire Sprinkler Coalition, was also recently commended for an op-ed she wrote on where she expressed her frustration in the slow process and pushback against home fire sprinklers. 

Pam Elliot

Read a feature about Pam Elliott's advocacy efforts in the new issue of NFPA Journal.

FSI Summit dinner
Protecting lives and saving property from fire through the installation of sprinklers in new homes is the topic at NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative summit in Raleigh, NC. About 60 attendees, representing the fire service, local government, public safety and other organizations, have gathered for a one-day meeting to network, brainstorm, share best practices, and discuss challenges associated with local and state efforts to bring about sprinkler requirements for new one- and two-family homes. 

Mary Regan and Ruth Balser

Chief Mary Regan of the Westfield, MA, Fire Department, and Chair of the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and Massachusetts State Representative Ruth Balser.

John Caufield and Jerry DeLuca

NFPA Regional Director John Caufield and Jerry DeLuca, Executive Director/CEO of the New York Associaition of Fire Chiefs.

Danny Beeler and Bob Duval

 Fire Marshal Danny Beller of the Knoxville, TN, Fire Department, and NFPA Regional Director Robert Duval.

Debbie Doke Bob Doke and Danny Salts

Debbie Doke, Oklahoma State Fire Marshal Bob Doke, and Fire Marshal Danny Salts of Owasso, OK.

Don Corkery and Tim Travers

Don Corkery of the New York Association of Fire Chiefs and NFPA Residential Fire Sprinkler Specialist Tim Travers.

Kevin Lauer and Kingman Schuldt

Kevin Lauer of the Municipal Tennessee Advisory Service and Kingman Schuldt, president of the Florida Fire Chiefs Association.

Cindy Giedraitis and Fred Durso

 Cindy Giedraitis of the National Fire Sprinkler Association and NFPA Communications Manager Fred Durso.

Randy Safer Joe Delaune Kelly Ransdell

NFPA Regional Director Randy Safer, Joe Delaune of the Louisiana State Fire Marshals Office, and Kelly Ransdell of the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

Jim Pauley Vicki Pritchett Lorraine Carli

NFPA President Jim Pauley, Vickie Pritchett of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, and Lorraine Carli, NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy.

Thomas Mawson and Ben Hammond

Thomas Mawson of the Center for Public Safety Excellence in Chantilly, VA, and Fire Marshal Ben Hammond of the Sheridan, AR, Fire Department.

Jeff Hudson and John PIzzi

NFPA Residential Fire Sprinkler Specialist Jeff Hudson and John Pizzi, President of the Fire Prevention Association of Massachusetts.

Mike Hazell Peg Paul

NFPA Web Publisher Mike Hazell and Peg Paul of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

This is the second home fire sprinkler summit that NFPA has hosted this year. Last May, about 50 people attended a Fire Sprinkler Initiative summit in Denver

Watch this blog for more updates from the Raleigh summit.

Brad PhillipsKey advocates have developed a knack for crafting the right sprinkler messages for media outlets. Today's sound bite-heavy society, however, has made it more important to get your point across succinctly. 

Brad Phillips, who has developed sprinkler advocacy training for the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, offers his top ten tips for creating soundbites that will capture the media's attention. (Don't forget that NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative has an array of advocacy materials to also help you promote home fire sprinklers.)

Great sound bites are all around you. Listen closely during conversations with friends and colleagues. What are intended as throwaway comments during casual banter often contain a gem worth saving—so keep pen and paper nearby to record the unexpected gold.

Marcia Yudkin, the “Head Stork” of Named At Last, a naming and tagline development company, came up with 17 tips to help spokespersons create memorable sound bites. I highly recommend her ebook, The Sound Bite Workbook. Among other ideas, she advises spokespersons to brainstorm a list of keywords related to their topic area, look in a thesaurus for unexpected word options, and identify relevant homophones.

Here are 10 types of sound bites the media regularly quote, along with examples for each. (Thanks to Marcia for her help with this list.)

  1. Similes, Metaphors, and Analogies: “It’s as if Republicans and Democrats are planning a trip, but they disagree over whether you should start the trip from Buenos Aires or Greenland.” – Howard Gleckman, Tax Policy Center
  2. Triples: “We help ordinary people get rich without working on Wall Street, inheriting wealth, or marrying a millionaire.”
  3. Rhetorical Questions: “More than 600,000 Americans lost their jobs last month. How many more families need to lose their economic lifeline before Congress acts?”
  4. Contrasts, Conflicts, or Paradoxes: “Our food is fresh. Our customers are spoiled.” – FreshDirect, online grocer
  5. Definitiveness or Power: “We are in this to win.” – Gen. David Petraeus
  6. Superlatives: “This is the biggest technological advance in 50 years in the oil business.” – Philip Crouse, oil analyst
  7. Pop Culture: “There’s a greater likelihood that I’ll be asked by Madonna to go on tour as her bass player than I’ll be picked to be on the ticket.” – Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), assessing his chances of becoming Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate in 2012
  8. Emotions: “As a New Yorker, I am absolutely horrified by what happened in my city last night.” – Commenter on Daily Kos website about alleged police brutality at a local protest
  9. Surprise Twist: “I will not exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” – President Ronald Reagan, diffusing accusations that he was too old for a second term
  10. Tweaked Clichés: “Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it does grow faster in credit unions without those greedy big-bank fees.”

Media professional Brad Phillips has worked closely with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors to help its advocates spread messages on burn injury and prevention, including the importance of home fire sprinklers. He is the author of The Media Training Bible and the Mr. Media Training Blog. 

One of the most tragic residential fires to hit Maine in the last few decades occurred earlier this month, when six people died from a blaze in an off-campus residence near the University of Portland. All of the victims were in their 20s, reports the Associated Press.

Aware that Canada isn't immune to these tragedies, Maine's northern neighbors are using social-media-savvy college students to further education on fire and home fire sprinklers. In September, the Fredericton, New Brunswick, Fire Department took part in Dorm Burn 2014, an event that included a live burn and sprinkler demonstration on the University of New Brunswick campus. While the rooms constructed by the fire department were intended to mimic dorm rooms, the message of the importance of sprinklers in all residential settings was not lost on the young attendees. Many were on hand to capture the event with their smart phones.

Said one student after watching fire destroy the contents in the nonsprinklered structure, "It was terrifying to think how you could be in that bed, and that bed was fully engulfed in less then one minute. It's scary to think that it could happen to you." 

Today's college students are tomorrow's homeowners. Here's hoping the event initiated a new legion of sprinkler advocates. If anything, the demonstration effectively showcased a key solution in reducing fire deaths and damages.   

Watch the following video of the event, made possible by the Fredericton Fire Department.  


New Jersey sprinkler trailer

Since 2005, the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB) has actively engaged and educated both the New Jersey public and the state’s legislators about proactive fire safety through a series of live demonstrations as part of its burn trailer program. The burn trailer events allow those in attendance to see firsthand the life- and property-saving benefits of fire sprinklers in real time.   

In 2014, the burn trailer, which has steadily gained momentum since its inception, hit a record reach of more than 7,600 people during 36 separate events. With over six times the number of spectators who witnessed a burn trailer event in its inaugural year, and more than 2,000 more spectators than last year, 2014 truly was a banner year for the program. 

In conjunction with NFPA’s National Fire Prevention Week, the NJFSAB held a total of seven burn trailer events across four counties in early October. The NJFSAB would like to thank the townships that participated in the events during this week as well as all of the other townships that hosted a burn trailer demonstration throughout the year. Fire prevention education and fire sprinkler systems are the most powerful tools we have to try and keep New Jersey residents from experiencing the woeful loss of losing a home or a loved one to a fire. For information on scheduling a burn trailer event please visit NJFSAB's website.

This post was written by David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, which is a member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition. 


!|border=0|src=|alt=Roland-Garcia|title=Roland-Garcia|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb07a78d17970d image-full img-responsive!
When it comes to effectively spreading the sprinkler message to a large audience, there might not be a better tool than the media. Understanding the media's reach is Roland Garcia, fire marshal of the Pearland, Texas, Fire Department who was awarded the inaugural Fire Sprinkler--Outstanding Media Reporting Award. The accolade promotes fire sprinkler successes and the media's effectiveness in highlighting sprinkler activations. Cindy Giedraitis, a regional manager with the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), presented the award to Garcia on behalf of NFSA and NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative at the Texas Fire Marshals' Conference in Austin last month.


Garcia, also co-chair of the Texas Fire Sprinkler Coalition, is one of the state's most outspoken advocates for home fire sprinklers. Over the past year, he had a hand in promoting four stories showcasing sprinklers in action.(One of them was featured on this blog.) In total, twelve Texas cities had reported sprinkler saves from 2013 to date, with the majority of reports coming from Pearland, Texas.


Follow Roland Garcia's lead and work with the media to promote the many benefits of sprinklers. Here are some tips and talking points from NFPA to get you started.   

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!New fire marshal plans to reduce fire deaths by making home fire sprinklers a priority

Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler CoalitionJohn Grant, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts (a member of the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition) and chief of the Milton Fire Department, wrote “Mounting fire death toll underscores need for sprinklers”, an op-ed that was published in a recent edition of The Boston Globe. In light of two recent fires that took the lives of two young boys and a disabled woman, Grant reinforces the importance of mandating the installation of fire sprinklers in newly constructed homes, a requirement that’s now being challenged by some groups and individuals. 

Visit the NFPA Today blog for highlights from Grant's op-ed. 

Washington Fire Sprinkler CoalitionThe outside-the-box thinkers with the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition have developed a new challenge that looks to ramp up education on home fire sprinklers, and it's effective (and simple) enough to replicate in other states. 

The Residential Fire Sprinkler Education Challenge tasks fire departments in the Evergreen State with increasing the promotion of a fire sprinkler's life-saving benefits. Departments are asked to complete six tasks, including:

Upon completing the challenge, the coalition will add the department as a member of the state's sprinkler education network as well as highlight their efforts on the coalition website and this blog.

Get all the details by downloading the form on the coalition's website. If you don't reside in Washington, let this form serve as a template for a similar effort that could possibly be conducted in your state. Education is the first step in getting sprinkler requirements on the books.

Well done, Washington! 

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: