Skip navigation
All Places > FSI > Blog > 2015 > August
2015

 



Phil Tammaro was only two years old when he was significantly burned in a home fire. His painstaking recovery lasted 39 years, well into his fire service career. However, he refused to let his injuries define him or limit his abilities as a firefighter.


Instead, Tammaro, a member of the Billerica Fire Department in Massachusetts, used his story to exact change. He learned that as a firefighter, his voice is a powerful tool in the push for home fire sprinklers across North America. "It's important that we advocate and increase awareness of fire sprinklers and the benefits of them, not only how they help protect our citizens but keep our firefighters safe," he says. "It's very important that all firefighters champion this and do anything they can to get involved."


 

Tammaro is now a member of NFPA's Faces of Fire, a component of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative that underscores the human impact of fire and the life-saving impact of home fire sprinklers. (NFPA linked up with Tammaro through partnering organization the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.) Since firefighters have an up-close-and-personal interaction with fire, Tammaro is using this platform to convince North American fire service members that their voice is a crucial tool in convincing decision makers of the necessity of sprinklers in new homes.


 

* !http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c6c98e970b-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c6c98e970b-120wi|alt=Act-Now-small|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Act-Now-small|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c6c98e970b img-responsive!Watch Tammaro's video above, and help spread his story by:*


copying and pasting the YouTube URL into a Facebook post or Twitter tweet

 



!http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Mark your calendars for important fire sprinkler summit
!http://i.zemanta.com/355691503_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/355691503_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Do your legislators know you support home fire sprinklers? If not, take action
!http://i.zemanta.com/noimg_49_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/noimg_49_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!The science behind fire suppression--and a pitch for home fire sprinklers

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c5a38a970b-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c5a38a970b-320wi|alt=Sprinkler spray|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Sprinkler spray|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c5a38a970b img-responsive!A recent fire in Connecticut could have been much worse if not for fire sprinklers. A kitchen fire at a Fairfield residence on August 23 was successfully contained by the overhead sprinklers, limiting damage to just two of the 54 apartments, according to the +Fairfield Citizen+.


The Fairfield Fire Department's Assistant Chief Schuyler Sherwood issued the following statement in the wake of the event: 


"The occupants of the building were extremely lucky that this building had sprinklers and that the sprinklers kept the fire in check. The damage would have been much worse had there not been sprinklers."


Thwarting greater damage in this instance is a strong reminder of the importance of these devices. For more information on advocating for home fire sprinkler requirements in your state or region, visit the [Fire Sprinkler Initiative | http://www.firesprinklerinitiative.org/] website.


 

This post was written by Ryan Sweezey, NFPA's public affairs intern.


!http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Mark your calendars for important fire sprinkler summit

!http://i.zemanta.com/354726407_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354726407_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Couple discovers the horrors of home fires the day of their wedding

!http://i.zemanta.com/355691503_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/355691503_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Do your legislators know you support home fire sprinklers? If not, take action

Wales sprinkler requirements
Across the pond in Wales, home fire sprinklers suffer the same myths and homebuilder opposition that is prevalent in North America. Yet, a historical measure was signed into law in 2011 following a unanimous vote by the Welsh Assembly to sprinkler the country's new homes starting next year. How did that happen?

Get the full story by reading the latest edition of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter. You'll also find stories on: 

  • a new law demanding homebuilder action on home fire sprinklers
  • two home fires, years apart, claiming members of the same family
  • a fire chief discussing how his opinion on home fire sprinklers has evolved
  • nominating sprinkler advocates for NFPA’s Bringing Safety Home Award

Our monthly newsletter is free, and sheds light on America's alarming home fire problem. Take a second and sign up today.

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c4b15b970b-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c4b15b970b-800wi|alt=Firemen house fire|title=Firemen house fire|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c4b15b970b image-full img-responsive!
Have you heard? The fire service has started embracing a series of scientific experiments that’s producing quantifiable data to help determine how to best fight fires. This scientific approach is said to be altering fire suppression tactics used by firefighters. Fire service journals, websites, and conferences are all highlighting this fire-attack-based-on-science phenomenon. And suppression people (like me) are absorbing, debating, and applying the latest information.


I support the scientific approach to studying fire dynamics and fire attack. I truly applaud the work of the good people at UL, NIST, NFPA, and other organizations for their efforts to publicize and promote their findings. I truly believe this data will improve our understanding of fire dynamics in the modern built environment and lead to changes in the way many approach fire. And, I truly believe this will lead to reduced line-of-duty firefighter injuries and deaths.


However, the science really isn’t all that new, and the application of the science really isn’t so complex. Also, the resulting perspective towards a “revolutionary change” in fire suppression is actually a little short-sighted. Again, these statements are not meant to critique the people doing the research, or the research. They are great people who are more intelligent than me. But, let me explain my claims and challenge you to dig a little deeper.


 

First, fire does not burn any differently now than before. It is, in fact, a science. It can be, and has been, replicated in various laboratories for decades. Its behavior can be predicted and controlled by changing certain variables affecting the combustion process, such as various aspects of the fuel load or oxygen supply. As an example, in the early 1950s, Keith Royer and Floyd Nelson published their research in the Iowa State Training Bulletin, Water for Fire Fighting. In it, they stated,  


+“The Firefighter is more interested in the amount of heat that is being produced when the attack is made and the fact that the oxygen supply to a fire does more to set limits on heat production than the amount of fuel available. +Of more specific interest to the firefighter rather than the total fuel load is the rate at which heat energy is being released during the actual fire.”


 

Sound familiar? Since its discovery, fire has been an exothermic chemical reaction emitting heat and light. I must agree that our understanding of fire behavior through scientific research has improved greatly over the decades, especially in recent years, and this research needs to continue. Also, the built environment in which fires are occurring +has changed significantly+ in recent decades, which has impacted the fire dynamics we are facing today.


Moreover, scientists have always been very smart people, and they now have even cooler toys than ever before. They can breakdown, verify, validate, and explain the aspects of both the combustion process and the suppression process with remarkable detail. They can now show data in the form of colored graphics, computerized models and simulations, and videos that can grab a firefighter’s attention. It’s important for all of us to understand that the science behind the combustion process is complex. Though not a scientist, I believe the science can be simplified and summarized when applied to the suppression process without compromising results:


 

Fire releases heat. Water absorbs heat. All other variables being equal, the bigger the fire, the more heat released. The more heat released, the more water required to absorb the heat. When the application rate of the water exceeds the heat-release rate of the fire, the fire goes out.


While I encourage all to study, learn, and understand the science of fire dynamics in the modern built environment, this basic concept sums it up.


Another thought: Suppression people are scrambling to “reinvent” fire attack methods based on new research. One account I read said that science is going to “revolutionize” the way we fight fires. I must say, I find this rather humorous. Many insightful fire officers have understood and applied certain firefighting principles for decades. Their first priority on the fireground has always been to aggressively achieve a rapid knockdown with tank water, often through a window or door for 30 seconds or so. Science has not discovered this tactic, nor are scientists claiming to have done so. They are, however, now proving its effectiveness through their research.


The “new science” is a big change for many, a real paradigm shift, as they like to say. I understand that we will be faced with attacking fires in non-sprinklered buildings and dwellings for decades to come, so we need to be talking about how best to do that. But, I must say we are falling short when applying scientific research to fire suppression. Science is “proving” that fire releases heat and that water absorbs heat. Yet, we only seem to be focusing on changing the fire suppression process by improving how we apply big water to big fires. We are claiming to do this in the interest of more effective, efficient, and safer firefighting techniques, which I agree is an important concept.


 

Why aren’t we also focusing on changing the fire suppression process in the future by simply applying a little water to a little fire before it gets big? Would this not be a more effective, efficient, and safer means of firefighting? Science has proven the unmatched, suppression capabilities of fire sprinklers.Why aren’t we giving sprinklers as much attention as we are the other revolutionary tactics we claim to have just discovered? It is time that suppression people start viewing – no, embracing – home fire sprinklers as an improved “revolutionary” tactic for the future of firefighting.


 

This post was written by Rick Ennis, fire chief for the City of Cape Girardeau in Missouri and chair of the Missouri Fire Sprinkler Coalition.


!http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Mark your calendars for important fire sprinkler summit

!http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter details home fire that forever altered a family's life

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0868905b970d-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0868905b970d-320wi|alt=New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0868905b970d img-responsive!Standing near what was once a residential complex in Edgewater, New Jersey, before fire ravaged it in January, fire officials publicly scolded state lawmakers for their inability to use the event as a means to strengthen the state's building code. Displacing hundreds of residents, the fire demonstrated a need for greater action on building safety. 


 

"This is not something that needs to be studied to death," said Glenn Corbett, member of the Bergen County Fire Chiefs Association, according to an article that appeared on NorthJersey.com. "It's pretty clear what the problem is and what the solution is. It's just that they don't have the political willpower in Trenton to change it."


Part of the "solution," said safety advocates at the recent protest in front of razed structure, is fire sprinklers. AvalonBay, the builder of the Edgewater complex, has committed to sprinklering some of its future developments in New Jersey above and beyond the requirements in the state building code. Legislators have introduced bills to strengthen building safety and increase sprinkler protection in new homes, but action on those bills are at a standstill. 


 

"There's not a consensus right now as to what the best way to go is," Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who has been championing for sprinklers in all new homes before and after the Edgewater fire, told NorthJersey.com. Wisniewski introduced the New Home Fire Safety Act, which would have mandated sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes, but the measure wasconditionally vetoed this year by Gov. Chris Christie.


Wisniewski and others had hoped the shock of the Edgewater fire would have prompted change. "You would've thought we could've gotten action quickly, and we go absolutely nothing," said Corbett. "We got nothing from Trenton, and we're demanding that it happen right now."


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08689033970d-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08689033970d-120wi|alt=Act-Now-small|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Act-Now-small|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08689033970d img-responsive!

The push for fire sprinklers in New Jersey marches on. Visit the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition website to see how advocates there are highlighting home fire sprinklers. 


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter details home fire that forever altered a family's life

!http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Mark your calendars for important fire sprinkler summit

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d14da5aa970c-800wi.jpg

Maryland's news outlets have been producing stories with a slanted view on home fire sprinklers, prompting the state's fire service and NFPA to take action.

Maryland joins California in requiring fire sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes. (Washington, D.C., and hundreds of other communities across the U.S. also require sprinklers in new homes.) Following a building code update in Maryland, the local media have been crafting what appears to be anti-sprinkler stories featuring a host of myths that downplay the benefits of a statewide, sprinkler requirement.

An article published in The Star Democrat, which interviewed seemingly anti-sprinkler sources, included statements such as "pricing people out of the [housing] market." The mandate, it adds, places "the dream of building a new, affordable home...out of reach."

Countering these statements in a letter to the editor was Brian Geraci, Maryland's state fire marshal. The story's estimated installation rates ($5,000 to $25,000) highball actual costs, which Geraci places at $1 to $2 per sprinklered square foot and views as a small price to pay for safety.

"Not one person has died from a fire in a sprinklered home or building in the state of Maryland," he says. "We have seen, in Maryland and across the country, more individuals who are dying in home fires with a working smoke alarm, but lacking fire sprinklers. In the last five years 77 individuals [in Maryland] died in home fires where the smoke alarm was present and working."

NFPA President Jim Pauley also offered another perspective to an article failing to tell the full story on sprinklers. Responding to a story titled "Sprinklers, and added cost, now universal in  Maryland," he urged the writer to investigate California. A recent article in The New York Times confirms that when it comes to California's housing market, business is booming."That state has been requiring sprinklers in all new homes since 2011, and has not seen a negative impact on housing stock or affordability. Hundreds of other communities ... have seen similar results."

One of those communities is Maryland's own Prince George's County. Pauley pointed to a report highlighting the town's sprinkler ordinance that has been in effect since 1992. No lives have been lost in the community's sprinklered homes, and sprinklers have cut property loss from fire by half.

"Your state now has the power to reduce--and possibly eliminate--the tragedies associated with home fires," stated Pauley. "Perpetuating the many myths associated with home fire sprinklers is taking a step backwards and fails to place value on what matters most: the value of saving a human life."


6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c82776f1970b-120wi.jpgPlease do your part to counter similar myths in your state and community. Use one of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative's templates to create an op-ed for your local publications.

 

 

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c26b49970b-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c26b49970b-800wi|alt=New York Sprinkler Alliance|title=New York Sprinkler Alliance|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c26b49970b image-full img-responsive!
Tempers flared following a recent vote by the New York Fire Prevention and Building Code Council to adopt the 2015 International Residential Code but remove its requirement to sprinkler all new, one- and two-family homes. Instead, the council opted to continue using the current code, which requires sprinklers only in wood frame residences exceeding two stories.


 

"You guys messed up," Jeff Wilkinson, president of the New York State Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, told the council, according to an article in the +Times Union.+ "You guys should be ashamed of yourselves." 


 

Also not mincing words was the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC), an active member of the New York Sprinkler Initiative, which has been advocating for the sprinkler requirement for months. The group has been stressing the loss of two-year-old Nora Lamirande, who died in May from a fire in a New York home built in 2013. "I am deeply disappointed that in voting to remove residential sprinklers from the statewide building code, members of the Code Council have chosen to put profit ahead of safety,” said Jerry DeLuca, the association's executive director and CEO. "I also find it ironic that just last week the New York City Council required sprinklers in pet stores, yet the state of New York refuses to protect children such as two-year-old Nora in the same way."  


 

Not surprising to sprinkler advocates was the emphasis placed on installation cost by council members. Representing the building industry on the council is William Tuyn, vice president of Forbes Capretto Homes, who believes "the newer home is the safer home, and our goal should not be to put in barriers to people getting themselves into newer, safer homes," according to the +Times Union. +Studies by UL and others confirm that new homes pose greater fire risks when compared to older homes.


The story also cites a Department of State study noting that fire sprinklers cut the amount of water needed to fight a fire in half when compared with what's needed by firefighters. Sprinkler cost was also analyzed, and the council's fire service official, Joseph Sauerwein, called the estimate inexpensive for the effects it has on life safety.


 

Despite the setback, NYSAFC is looking towards the future. The group plans to use grant money secured by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative to boost sprinkler education in its state. "We plan to utilize the funds...to undertake a public information and education program to inform the public and fire service of the benefits of home fire sprinklers," DeLuca tells NFPA. "It may take a couple of years to combat the misinformation spread by the builders and real estate agents, but we are not going to give up the fight on this."


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0866ae05970d-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0866ae05970d-120wi|alt=Act-Now-small|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Act-Now-small|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0866ae05970d img-responsive!




Determine your state's fire sprinkler requirements by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site, and learn how to get involved on a local level.


 


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/354115120_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354115120_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Use these tips to get home fire sprinklers on the media's radar

!http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Mark your calendars for important fire sprinkler summit

!http://i.zemanta.com/353577884_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353577884_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!State's code-making body "dysfunctional" for not updating its building code

 

!http://a4.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7c2801c970b-320wi|src=http://a4.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7c2801c970b-320wi|alt=Chief Wilcox|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Chief Wilcox|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7c2801c970b img-responsive!In 2001, Bob Wilcox, then fire chief of the Matteson Fire Department in Illinois, was preparing to build a new home with fire sprinklers. "I wanted to protect my family,” he says. “[Sprinklers are] there 24/7 in case something happens. It's like life insurance." The installation, however, wasn’t just for his family; Wilcox was also laying the groundwork to upgrade the fire code in his rapidly growing suburban community. 


In March 2002, Wilcox opened his new home to the public, elected officials, building inspectors, and area fire departments to view the sprinklers before the drywall was installed. Outside the home, the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association's fire sprinkler demonstration trailer provided proof of the value of fire sprinklers. 


Installing fire sprinklers in his home was one phase in Wilcox’s plan to prepare the public for his code-upgrade proposal. Housing developments that had longstanding plot approvals based on an older code became a point of contention. Wilcox recognized the practicality of a compromise, which eventually saved the ordinance.


 

The requirement passed in 2004, making Matteson the 15th Illinois community to pass a sprinkler requirement. By 2008, the village already had 800 single-family homes and 600 townhomes protected with sprinklers in accordance with NFPA 13D, +Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes,+ and NFPA 13R, +Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies.+ 


 

Shortly thereafter, Wilcox retired from the Matteson Fire Department but kept sprinklers at the forefront when becoming the fire chief of the Park Forest Fire Department. He again used trailer demonstrations and live burn/sprinkler demonstrations to help educate board members. In 2008, Park Forest become the 55th Illinois community with a fire sprinkler requirement. 


 

Wilcox made sure to address any potential issues during his advocacy efforts, including poor plan submittals as well as inspection and testing details. He also utilized the free resources produced by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative.


In 2013, Wilcox retired from the fire service. The sprinkler ordinances he strived for continue to thrive thanks to the culture he left behind that stresses the importance of educating the public and elected officials.  Now, Battalion Chief Sam Anello monitors and nurtures the progress of the ordinance in Matteson, and Fire Marshal Mike Wheeler has taken over that task in Park Forest. They continue moving forward, one sprinkler-protected home at a time. 


 

This post was written by Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting legislation, raising public awareness, and educating code officials and government policymakers on home fire sprinklers. Lia regularly offers his perspective on sprinkler activities taking place in his state and elsewhere.  


!http://i.zemanta.com/354115120_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354115120_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Use these tips to get home fire sprinklers on the media's radar

!http://i.zemanta.com/353777649_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353777649_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Two families say hello to their sprinklered homes, courtesy of Habitat of Humanity

!http://i.zemanta.com/353577884_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353577884_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!State's code-making body "dysfunctional" for not updating its building code

!http://a5.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d14b02c5970c-320wi|src=http://a5.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d14b02c5970c-320wi|alt=Shane Ray|title=Shane Ray|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d14b02c5970c img-responsive!

Shane Ray, president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association



A two-year-old girl died this year from a fire in a New York home built two years ago. The event rattled safety advocates nationwide while providing a crystal-clear example of the dangers associated with not adopting current building codes.


 

"New York hasn't updated its statewide code since 2010, and that adoption was based on 2006 codes," stated Shane Ray, president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, in a commentary that appeared on Firehouse.com. "A two-year-old is dead because of the lack of staying current with codes. Fire sprinklers work, and maintaining current codes provides for fire sprinklers and a lot more life safety features that aren’t cherry-picked by politics."


 

In his commentary, Ray notes that the fire service can be the game-changers who can effectively promote current safety requirements. He tasks this group with making sure working smoke alarms and fire sprinklers become fixtures in all new homes. "If you are building a new home, remodeling your current home, or moving a loved one to college or an assisted living facility, demand fire sprinklers," states Ray. "Make sure the community uses the latest code and that the inspector is inspecting on your behalf. We have to lead by example so we can be role models to our families, our communities, and our country. Don’t let the politics of life safety create 50 more years of unnecessary fire deaths."


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c12a33970b-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c12a33970b-120wi|alt=Act-Now-small|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Act-Now-small|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7c12a33970b img-responsive!
Are you a fire sprinkler supporter? Now is the time to become a fire sprinkler advocate. Please consider joining a state sprinkler coalition and take part in the fire sprinkler movement. 


 


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/355062180_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Mark your calendars for important fire sprinkler summit

!http://i.zemanta.com/353577884_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353577884_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!State's code-making body "dysfunctional" for not updating its building code

!http://i.zemanta.com/353768602_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353768602_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Two families say hello to their sprinklered homes, courtesy of Habitat of Humanity

!http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter details home fire that forever altered a family's life

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0864f8bb970d-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0864f8bb970d-800wi|alt=UT sprinkler trailer|title=UT sprinkler trailer|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb0864f8bb970d image-full img-responsive!
Almost as eye-catching as Utah's breathtaking landscape is a wheeled beauty rolling through areas of the Beehive State.


Painted fire-engine red, the sprinkler demonstration trailer is taking safety directly to the masses, one pit stop at a time. The vehicle includes two, identical compartments mimicking areas of any home. One of the compartments, however, includes fire sprinklers, which are activated by fire during public events hosted by the state's fire service organizations.


 

Now on the go, the trailer was stuck in neutral for years. What prompted its recent debut on Utah roadways were local businesses that donated supplies for the trailer and a $5,000 grant from NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative. NFPA chose the Utah Fire Sprinkler Coalition and 15 other groups throughout North America as the recipients of its Bringing Safety Home Grant Program, which promotes local sprinkler and advocacy efforts in 2015. The trailer will be used by Utah coalition members and others to enlighten the public on fire sprinkler operation.


 

For Utah fire departments looking to use the trailer, the coalition is also making a point to require departments to first register as a Built For Life Fire Department. A product of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, this program encourages and recognizes fire departments that make home fire sprinklers an educational component of their outreach. 


Check this blog often for other sprinkler advocacy efforts funded by NFPA's Bringing Safety Home Grant. In the meantime, check out these photos of the Utah sprinkler trailer: 


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d14a8a7e970c-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d14a8a7e970c-800wi|alt=Utah trailer|title=Utah trailer|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d14a8a7e970c image-full img-responsive!


 

  !http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d14a8ab3970c-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d14a8ab3970c-800wi|alt=UT Trailer|title=UT Trailer|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d14a8ab3970c image-full img-responsive!


!http://i.zemanta.com/353777649_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353777649_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Two families say hello to their sprinklered homes, courtesy of Habitat of Humanity

!http://i.zemanta.com/354115120_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354115120_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Use these tips to get home fire sprinklers on the media's radar

!http://i.zemanta.com/353577884_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353577884_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!State's code-making body "dysfunctional" for not updating its building code

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08630660970d-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08630660970d-320wi|alt=Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08630660970d img-responsive!The nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) and NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative are teaming up to recognize outstanding local efforts by an advocate who diligently promotes the importance of home fire sprinklers.


 

The Bringing Safety Home Award honors members of the fire service and other sprinkler advocates who use HFSC and Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources as a key component in educating decision-makers on fire sprinklers and convincing them to support sprinkler requirements at the local, state, or province level.


The award recipient will be honored at NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative Summit, October 13-14, 2015, in Phoenix. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging expenses for the trip.


 

Download the nominee application form from the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website and submit it to FireSprinklerInitiative@NFPA.org by Thursday, September 10, 2015. 


!http://i.zemanta.com/352611325_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/352611325_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire chief passionate about home fire sprinklers becomes latest NFPA blogger

!http://i.zemanta.com/353777649_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353777649_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Two families say hello to their sprinklered homes, courtesy of Habitat of Humanity

!http://i.zemanta.com/354860907_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354860907_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter details home fire that forever altered a family's life

!http://a6.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d1487b7e970c-320wi|src=http://a6.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d1487b7e970c-320wi|alt=Chief Rick Ennis|title=Chief Rick Ennis|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d1487b7e970c img-responsive!

Throughout his career, Fire Chief Rick Ennis has always classified himself as a "suppression guy."



 

Bill Ennis, Sr., the father of our newest blogger, Chief Rick Ennis, passed away on July 20 at the age of 85, following a 40-year career in the fire service. Rick dedicates this post to his dad.


 

If you read my last post, you’ll recall I offered the premise that the American fire service has traditionally been divided into two camps: prevention people and suppression people. I held that fire sprinklers have typically been a prevention issue when they really should be considered more of a suppression issue.  


So, who am I and how did I develop my views?  I grew up in the fire service, and it has been woven into my natural fiber. In their day, my grandfather, father, and three older siblings were all dedicated firefighters and fire service instructors who eventually became passionate fire chiefs. In my most formative years, my dad served as our town’s fire chief/fire marshal/building official, and in his free time, served as a regional instructor on many topics. In his heart, though, he was simply a fireman.


Growing up, I was blessed to have often been able to tag along with my father. He didn’t have the time for the typical father-son stuff. Instead, he took me along with him when he could to the fire house, to training sessions, to building construction sites, to actual fires. I won’t admit to readers (or my mother) how young I was when I began helping my older brothers “stoke” during live fire training burns in acquired structures.


My fire service career started more than 34 years ago in the 1980s. I have served in a variety of capacities in a variety of suburban communities and small cities. No matter your fire service background, I can relate through my own experience.


I came up through the ranks primarily in suppression and training. I worked a full-time, 56-hour shift schedule and on my days off as a part-time firefighter and fire instructor. My favorite training subjects were hands-on suppression-related tactics and tasks. My closest brothers (literally and figuratively) and I lived to fight fires. I was always aware of the benefits of fire sprinklers, especially in large or special-hazard buildings. I never, ever opposed fire sprinklers. But honestly, I’d hope the fire was still burning when I arrived, so I could get in on a piece of the action.


Once I became a fire chief, my perspective began to change. It’s one thing to be inside of or on top of a burning building, partly in control of your own destiny. When you are standing outside commanding and controlling the entire fire ground, you actually feel more helpless. No matter how much faith and confidence you have in your people, even when they remind you of yourself when you were them, you cannot physically touch them. You know you are responsible for each and every one of them, and that creates uneasiness. Those fires just never seems to go out as quickly as you’d like.


!http://a3.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01bb0862edcb970d-320wi|src=http://a3.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01bb0862edcb970d-320wi|alt=Ennis|title=Ennis|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d01bb0862edcb970d img-responsive!

Ennis and his team, at the site of a recent fire



In between fires, I began spending more time planning how to best deliver suppression services to the customer. Planning on how best to reduce response times to suppression events. Planning on how to best acquire and deploy suppression resources. Planning on how best to create the safest environment for my suppression people as possible. Planning on how to best deliver suppression services along with the variety of other services we were responsible for delivering.


I also began overseeing and supporting prevention people. I became reacquainted with code enforcement issues, recalling my father’s approach to his role as fire marshal/building official. I regained a greater appreciation for their perspective on fire protection. I realized I needed to expand my knowledge and understanding of prevention issues. During that process, I was reintroduced to fire sprinklers, especially home fire sprinklers, by people like Shane Ray, now president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA); Vickie Pritchett, NFSA's director of public fire protection; and Amy Acton, executive director of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. However, I did not simply take on the typical “prevention perspective” of the issue. 


 

In my heart, I’ll always be a fireman. A suppression guy. And, it is from this perspective that I view fire sprinklers. Especially home fire sprinklers. Putting out house fires is still at my core, and I will forever welcome the opportunity to do so. However, I have come to the realization that there is a better way of doing it than just me riding around on a fire engine from house fire to house fire. 


 

Rick Ennis is fire chief for the City of Cape Girardeau in Missouri and chair of the Missouri Fire Sprinkler Coalition.


!http://i.zemanta.com/354860907_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354860907_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter details home fire that forever altered a family's life

!http://i.zemanta.com/352648917_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/352648917_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire chief passionate about home fire sprinklers becomes latest NFPA blogger

!http://i.zemanta.com/352861967_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/352861967_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!The latest in NFPA's new video series underscores long-lasting, emotional torment following home fires

!http://a3.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7bcd97b970b-800wi|border=0|src=http://a3.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7bcd97b970b-800wi|alt=Governor Jack Markell|title=Governor Jack Markell|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7bcd97b970b image-full img-responsive!

Delaware Governor Jack Markell (seated) signs new sprinkler bill. He's sporting an NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative lapel pin.




In front of more than 100 fire sprinkler advocates and key politicians, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed legislation on August 6 aimed at improving fire safety for homeowners.  


 

The new law requires builders of new, one- and two-family homes to give buyers a cost estimate for installing fire sprinklers and requires that homebuyers receive information from the State Fire Marshal's Office about sprinkler benefits. Upon request of the buyer, the builder would be required to install sprinklers in the home.


The new law will apply to residential building contracts entered on or after January 1 of the year following the fire marshal's preparation and promulgation of the written materials.


The legislation was drafted and sponsored by Delaware Representative Edward Osienski and Senator Bruce C. Ennis. Sprinkler advocates attending the bill signing included NFPA Regional Sprinkler Specialist Tim Travers and Ray Lonabaugh, NFSA’s Mid Atlantic Regional Manager.


!http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter details home fire that forever altered a family's life

!http://i.zemanta.com/352611325_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/352611325_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire chief passionate about home fire sprinklers becomes latest NFPA blogger

!http://i.zemanta.com/352861967_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/352861967_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!The latest in NFPA's new video series underscores long-lasting, emotional torment following home fires

We're trying to make our legislators understand that home fire sprinklers are important, said Fire Marshals' Association of Missouri President Gene Robertson during a live burn/sprinkler demonstration that occurred in conjunction with last month's Missouri Association of Building and Fire Officials Conference. We're losing too many people to fires that we shouldn't be losing.

 

Others would soon realize the accuracy of Robertson' statement. Days later, in the same Missouri town where the sprinkler demonstration occurred, a home fire took the lives of four children ranging in age from two to five. According to a local NBC affiliate, firefighters rescued two adults via a third-floor window, but the fire trapped the children on the fourth floor.

 

"We were able to knock the fire down quickly enough to get inside and make a recovery on the children, but none of the four did make it," Osage Beach, Missouri, Fire Chief Jeffrey Dorhauer told NBC. "It's tough for anyone to get over."

 

At the sprinkler demonstration, Robertson drove the point home that sprinklers are designed to reduce and possibly eliminate these tragedies. Also taking a strong stance on sprinkler importance is the Missouri Fire Sprinkler Coalition, which has been diligently promoting these devices this year.

 

See what the coalition has been up to by visiting its website, and see what you're able to replicate in your state or region.

Across the pond in Wales (population three million), home fire sprinklers suffer the same homebuilder opposition that is prevalent in North America. Yet, an historic measure was signed into law in 2011 following unanimous vote by the Welsh Assembly to sprinkler the country's new homes starting next year. How did that happen?

 

NFPA recently interviewed Ronnie King, former chief fire officer in Wales and secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety & Rescue Group, which brings fire-related topics to the Parliament's attention. King discusses how the sprinkler measure was passed, how the opposition was addressed, and why sprinkler advocates need to get on the radar of their legislators.

 

NFPA: How did this requirement for sprinklering all new homes come to be?

 

This kicked off in 2007 by the efforts of Assembly Member Ann Jones. Fire sprinklers are a particular passion of hers. Before becoming a politician, she was in the fire service. She's been involved with dead children being pulled out of a burning homes five, six at a time and knew there was a solution to this. In 2007, she introduced a Legislative Competence Order, giving Wales competence to introduce its own legislation to ensure all newly built housing in Wales are fitted with automatic fire sprinklers. The Legislative Competence Order became a measure and was unanimously passed by the Welsh government in 2011. Jones got cross-party support from so many people.

 

How?
Ann Jones wouldn't give up. She hounded people. She went into every legislative office of anyone who was doubtful. She'd give them a lecture on fire sprinklers. I was just as passionate. Her enthusiasm and belief was enough for the fire and rescue service to get behind her because she knew she wasn't going to lose this.

 

Where did your enthusiasm for fire sprinklers come from?

 

As a chief fire officer for 20 years, there were 150 deaths and 6,000 burns and injuries under my command. We have a solution that can stop these deaths and injuries from happening. Prior to the passage of the sprinkler measure, I went to two road shows the Welsh Assembly had organized. The homebuilders and the building-control authorities were there. They tried to monopolize the meeting by saying, "We'll be placed out of business. This measure is absolute nonsense. We got regulation after regulation on energy efficiency, insulation. Now you're adding another burden." I passionately told them my experience, about bringing children out of fires, sometimes as many as five.

 

How else did you and others address the opposition?

 

We went through a number of committee meetings with the water industry, homebuilders, fire officials, building-control authorities, anyone with a stake in this measure. When the Welsh water authority said it would be difficult managing water pressures, I said there is a place in England not dissimilar to Wales with high mountains, lots of reservoirs, lots of low-lying areas where water pressure isn’t consistent. And yet, they didn't have these problems when installing sprinklers. Ann Jones, a deputy chief officer from North Wales, and I worked together to answer every critical point that came up.

 

Now that the measure went through, homebuilders are having workshops and training sessions. They seem to be responding positively to the requirement. There's also lots of pilot studies occurring to see what the obstacles might be and how we can overcome them.

 

What about the public? Are they aware of how fire sprinklers will safeguard them at home?

 

People here don’t know much about sprinklers. There hasn’t been a good PR campaign saying to people that if you burn your toast, the sprinkler won’t flood your kitchen. The Wales government has adequately addressed these myths. There's need of a PR campaign.

 

Any advice you care to share that might assist North American sprinkler advocates in their push for sprinkler requirements?

 

There was a politician who said to me, "I don’t believe in sprinklers and can’t support them." There was a fire in her constituency where a family of six died in a single-family dwelling. I asked her to come to an All-Party meeting. She kept avoiding it. The fire occurred in her area. It’s going to be very embarrassing for her if she declined to even talk to people about the fire. We told her to give us a half hour and we can pull points together on how this tragedy could have been avoided. She came. I showed her slides, videos of fires. She completely came around. 

 

What you have to do is build on an opportunity. You have to get a champion on board. When you have them, you have to grab them and talk to them. There's so much visual evidence around the world in support of fire sprinklers. It's frightening. All they tend to listen to are their civil servants, who tell them sprinklers are not cost-beneficial. You need passionate people in politics who will fight this.

 

Find a celebrity who's had an experience of losing a child or family member to fire, who can get something done, who can say, "There is a solution to this." They can get to the people, the people will buy in, and the politicians will want to be popular, so they can change this. Public opinion is always powerful, isn't it?

 

Interview conducted, edited, and condensed by Fred Durso, Jr., communications manager for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

The 27th fire death in Massachusetts this year was a 64-year-old man who succumbed to a home fire. Highlighting the cause was just as important to the local fire service as was noting the solution for eliminating home fire deaths.

 

When asked for comment about the fire from a reporter, Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition Chair Mary Regan took a stance on sprinklers. "Fires are always a terrible experience, but they are even worse when someone dies," said Regan, fire chief of the Westfield, Massachusetts, Fire Department, in an article that appeared on Mass Live. "I have been a strong advocate to require all new homes to be built with fire sprinklers, so we can build a future where these tragedies are less likely to happen."

 

Regan isn't the only one in Massachusetts promoting sprinklers to the public. Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan makes sure news releases from his office, personal op-eds, and his statements at news conferences mention fire sprinklers. “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,” said Coan in an interview with NFPA Journal.

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb085d782f970d-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb085d782f970d-800wi|alt=Legislator|title=Legislator|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb085d782f970d image-full img-responsive!
Home fire sprinkler advocates are a diverse bunch. Case in point: a coroner familiar with the horrific effects of fire has vowed to take action to prevent future tragedies.


 

A recent inquest in England shed light on an 80-year-old man burned by a fire in his home on his birthday. Immobilized in his chair, the man was unable to seek safety from the flames. Neighbors rushed to his aid, but he eventually died from his injuries, reports the +Nottingham Post.+


During the inquest, coroner Robert Hunter asked a fire investigator if sprinklers have the power to rapidly extinguish fire. The investigator responded with a resounding "Yes." 


"I have the power to write to the authorities to bring to their attention certain things that could be changed to make things better following inquests," said Hunter. "In this case, I intend to write to the appropriate Government department asking them whether consideration should be given to fitting sprinkler systems in new build houses."


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb085d7770970d-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb085d7770970d-120wi|alt=Act-Now-small|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Act-Now-small|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb085d7770970d img-responsive!You, too, have the power to create safer communities. Mimic Robert Hunter's actions and let your local officials and policymakers know you support home fire sprinklers by:


joining or contacting a state sprinkler coalition. They'll link you up with your state representatives. If you live in a state without a coalition, contact our regional sprinkler specialists.

informing them of the benefits of sprinklering new homes by forwarding them tailored information from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/353768602_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/353768602_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Two families say hello to their sprinklered homes, courtesy of Habitat of Humanity
!http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/354876901_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter details home fire that forever altered a family's life

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: