Old Man Winter kept his firm grip on New England last week by dipping temperatures into the single digits during a legislative breakfast hosted by the Western Massachusetts Fire Chiefs Association in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Piercing the bitter chill, albeit briefly, was a fiery display that did what it was intended to do: get the attention of key politicians.
Within minutes, the side-by-side burn demonstration--one structure equipped with sprinklers, one without--showcased to an array of state and local legislators that fire shows no mercy. (The temperature in the unsprinklered structure rapidly reached 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.) What they also saw firsthand was the immense speed at which home fire sprinklers can react to fire's fury.
This ability to prevent further tragedies in the places where most fire deaths in the U.S. are occurring is why sprinkler requirements for one- and two-family homes in Massachusetts are needed now, said Mary Regan, chair of the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition and fire chief with the Westfield Fire Department. "Most people think they are safest in their home, but that is where you are at the greatest risk of being killed in a fire," said Regan in a story that appeared in The Republican. "Seven of the last 10 fire fatalities in Westfield have been in one- or two-family homes." Regan and the rest of the coalition are standing behind a new bill that would allow local communities to adopt sprinkler requirements for new, one- and two-family homes.
The effects from these requirements were demonstrated firsthand in front of influential state politicians at the legislative breakfast. Said Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, "this demonstration illustrates how a picture is worth a hundred--no--a thousand words."