“I have responded to hundreds of fatal fires in my state, and it’s hard to rationalize how decisions [on mandatory home fire sprinkler installations] can be based strictly on cost while not recognizing the effect fire has on our society,” says Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, who has headed the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services since its creation in 1995.
For years, Coan has been a tireless force in the push for statewide sprinkler requirements. His department has a seat on the state's Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS), which adopts building regulations and administers provisions of the state building code. Though he's urged the BBRS to adopt sprinkler requirements, the board has voted against these endeavors on numerous occasions.
These setbacks have not deterred Coan. As he explains in the latest issue of NFPA Journal, he refuses to stop advocating for something as life-saving as home fire sprinklers. "Public safety...in my view trumps what I think is a reasonable cost to enhance current and future generations," says Coan, a member of the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition.
Read Coan's profile in the November/December edition of NFPA Journal, or visit the Massachusetts coalition page to download a PDF of the article.