According to Firehouse.com, the December incident occurred in a high-rise, senior living apartment complex in Castle Hills, Texas. The fire in the unsprinklered building killed five people. (The report adds that a sixth person who was living in the building has also died, but a city manager did not attribute the 71-year-old woman's death to the fire.)
Sprinkler advocates across North America are underscoring this tragedy to demand sprinkler requirements in all settings, including one- and two-family homes. "Our hope is that this event will help Texas policymakers understand the important role that codes play in keeping citizens safe," says Vickie Pritchett, director of Public Fire Protection for the National Fire Sprinkler Association and facilitator for Common Voices, an advocacy coalition whose members have all been directly impacted by fire. "It's time for local communities to be able to adopt code requirements that include fire sprinklers. The lives of Texans are depending on it." According to NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site, local jurisdictions in Texas may not enforce sprinkler provisions unless they have had sprinkler ordinances in place on January 1, 2009.
Justina Page, a member of Common Voices from Texas and one of NFPA's Faces of Fire, is familiar with the pain and loss associated with fire; she lost her 22-month-old soon and was injured in a 1999 house fire. "These events are preventable," says Page. "Technology exists and current codes should be in place to make sure people don't die and that they aren't scared for their life."
Pritchett notes that the Castle Hills fire is the second deadly fire in Texas in December involving senior living apartments. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 160 residential fire deaths in Texas were reported by the media in 2014.
Watch the following video of Justina Page describing the fire that changed her life: