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Florida Fire Sprinkler CoalitionFire sprinkler advocates are joining forces in Florida following one town's push to pass a requirement for home fire sprinklers. 

As previously reported on this blog, the Floridian town of Estero is considering to require sprinklers in all new homes. Fire officials there and elsewhere have ramped up their support for this effort; they recently held a live burn/sprinkler demonstration that gave the press an eye-opening glimpse into the dangers of today's home fires. During the event, Estero Fire Resue's Fire Marshal Phillip Green cited key NFPA statistics complementing the demonstration and data supporting the need for sprinklers. In Florida, he noted, there were close to 17,000 fires in single-family homes in 2013 resulting in 124 deaths and $210 million in direct damages.

Local jurisdictions in Florida are permitted to require sprinklers, pending a study on "the economic impact of such a mandate on homeowners," according to a news story that appeared on News-Press.com. Estero Fire commissioned such a report, which concluded that homeowners would experience significant savings over a 30-year period if sprinklers are installed in new, one- and two-family homes. Furthermore, developers would benefit from sprinkler "trade-ups," including increased hydrant spacing and longer dead-end streets, which allow additional building lots to be accessed. (Get the full list of builder trade-ups on the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

Savings would also stem from reduced inspection, permit, and plan-review fees as well as reduced water-flow requirements, stated the News-Press story.

Despite these benefits, the Lee Building Industry Association is fighting this proposed requirement. "People don't want fire sprinklers in their homes," Brenda Thomas, the association's executive vice president, told a local publication. A survey commissioned by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition counters this claim.

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Are you a Florida resident? Know someone with a passion for safety living there? Join the newly formed Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and add your support to the sprinkler push.  

The recent decision by the New York Fire Prevention and Building Code Council to not include a sprinkler requirement for new homes hasn't stopped fire officials from speaking out about this life-safety feature.

 

Despite the council's vote, the fire service and other safety advocates are planning on voicing the importance of such a requirement during New York's Department of State public-review process that precedes the new state building code becoming law. The department will finish the review process by early 2016, according to a story in the Watertown Daily News.

 

Regarding the code council's vote, "I'm disappointed they chose to put profitability of builders over safety," said Jerry DeLuca, executive and CEO of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs and member of the New York Sprinkler Initiative  told the paper. "We've talked to people in the Baltimore area where sprinklers are mandated, and they said the installation costs were higher when they were first required three years ago. But as more homes were built, the prices came down to about $1 per square foot." NFPA places the national average at $1.35 per sprinklered square foot.

 

 

Arguing that sprinklers should be a consumer option is Lewis A. Dubuque, executive vice president of the New York Builders Association. "Hard-wired smoke detectors are a cost-efficient way to keep people safe, and that's your safety belt," he told the paper. NFPA underscores the importance of smoke alarms in saving lives, but notes

only sprinklers have the power to quickly suppress a fire.<

 

Dubuque also pointed to a study he says confirms fire sprinklers should be a matter of choice. However, a 2014 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition confirms that the majority of respondents are more likely to buy a home with fire sprinklers than without.

 

DeLuca also countered a study produced by the builders association that argues fatal fires are occurring mostly in older homes. &quot;There are more old homes out there than new homes, so statistics are going to be skewed,&quot; he said. Proving the catastrophic nature of fires in today's homes, two-year old Nora Lamirande from New York was killed this year from a fire in a home built in 2013.

 

 

Sprinkler opposition is out there, and it's fierce. so you can effectively respond to their claims.

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08763911970d-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08763911970d-320wi|alt=Webinar|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Webinar|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08763911970d img-responsive!NFPA&#39;s Fire Sprinkler Initiative is hosting its first webinar, "Don't Go it Alone: How NFPA Can Support Your Sprinkler Advocacy Efforts"&#0160;on October 20, 11-11:30 a.m.


 

The free webinar will&#0160;highlight effective tactics for advocating for home fire sprinklers in your community and ways to get involved in the push for increased sprinkler acceptance. Learn&#0160;how sprinkler advocates are effectively spreading the message that sprinklers save lives. Discover the many myths associated with fire sprinklers and how new resources from NFPA&#39;s Fire Sprinkler Initiative combat those myths.&#0160;


 

Register for the free event today!&#0160;


!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

What better way to underscore the effectiveness of fire sprinklers than by showcasing the device&#39;s ability to save lives?

 

Our partners and safety advocates across North America graciously send us anecdotes of fire sprinklers in action. Here are some of the more recent sprinkler saves:

 

Maryland

 

Fortunately for the town of Mount Airy, it has had a sprinkler requirement on the books since 2003. The requirement was recently praised when a clothes dryer in one of its homes caught fire. A single sprinkler activated and extinguished most of the fire by the time the fire department reached the laundry room. Fire damage was confined only to the one room. Since the structure was built with lightweight construction, which burns hotter and faster than traditional construction materials, fire officials said the sprinkler averted a catastrophe. This sprinkler save was the second this year in Mount Airy.

 

Colorado

 

A resident living in the Castle Pines Village community was home when a refrigerator inside the home caught fire, activating a single sprinkler and containing the fire until the fire department arrived to finish the job. There were no injuries and minimal fire damage. &quot;This fire is another illustration of the power of fire sprinklers to save lives and property,&quot; says Craig Denhard, investigation section supervisor for the South Metro Fire Rescue Authority. &quot;Without sprinklers, the outcome could have been much different, and the lives of all residents and our firefighters could have been put at great risk. All homes in Castle Pines have sprinkler protection. For Colorado towns with fire sprinkler requirements,

 

Kansas

 

The Shawnee, Kansas, Fire Department recently responded to a fire alarm at an apartment complex, only to find the sprinklers had already extinguished a kitchen fire. &quot;One single sprinkler head put out this kitchen fire, saved over $1 million in property damage, and kept 12 families in their homes,&quot; said Corey Sands, fire marshal for the Shawnee Fire Department and member of the Kansas Fire Sprinkler Coalition.  This is a textbook example of how putting preventative measures in place can help people and their property remain safe.

 

Alaska

 

According to an Alaskan publication, sprinklers recently stopped a fire in its tracks. Cooking was the cause of the fire, which was immediately extinguished by sprinklers. Nobody was displaced, and damage was kept to a minimum, stated the story.

 

Let us know of any sprinkler saves in your town. Send the write-ups to firesprinklerinitiative@nfpa.org for possible inclusion on this blog.

SprinklerFollowing the destruction of a $500,000 Canadian home from a fire in an area with no fire department, the local fire service views sprinklers as the solution in these towns.

"Whether [the homeowners] were home or not, [sprinklers] would have activated in two minutes from the start of the fire," Shawn Leamon, deputy fire chief with the Steady Brook Volunteer Fire Department in Newfoundland, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "It would have knocked down the fire and put it out immediately."

Leamon added that property owners are already responsible for their own water, sewer, snow clearing, and garbage collection. Adding fire sprinklers as a component to their own fire protection measures can be a cost-effective solution.

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Read NFPA's research reports underscoring the benefits of fire sprinklers. 

FloridaFire sprinkler advocates in Florida probably saw this one coming. 

Last month, a news story highlighted the Floridian town of Estero, which has proposed a sprinkler ordinance for its new homes. This idea followed the success of a new development in Estero that includes 90, fully sprinklered homes. Since the town has a high population of older adults, a group at high risk of dying in home fires, the sprinkler ordinance is seen by safety advocates as a crucial, life-saving measure.

One homebuilder has a vastly different opinion on the proposal. "This devil raised its head in Collier [County, Florida] years ago," Brenda Talbert-Thomas, executive vice president of the Lee Building Industry Association, told the Business Observer. "There are so many reasons not to do this." 

The story adds that Talbert-Thomas will be meeting with city officials about the proposal. 

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Please inform your local homebuilders that fire sprinklers can be good for business. Use these resources from the Fire Sprinkler Initiative, and share these pro-sprinkler homebuilder stories, including NFPA's most recent one of Russ Davis:

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1562c52970c-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1562c52970c-800wi|alt=Residential fire|title=Residential fire|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1562c52970c image-full img-responsive!
Fire forced John Kor, his girlfriend, and others from Kor's home within minutes of noticing the flames. Finding a sense of normalcy after the incident won't be as brief.


 

Kor, 33, and those involved in the August 15 fire in Rapid City, South Dakota, are experiencing the aftermath felt my thousands of others across North America each year. In 2013 alone, there were more than 369,000 reported home structure fires that resulted 2,800 deaths, 12,000 injuries, and nearly $7 billion in direct property damage, according to NFPA.&#0160;An added component to this data is the excruciating pain of picking up the pieces after these tragedies.


 

Kor and the others home at the time at the fire weren&#39;t injured, but his home was badly damaged and deemed &quot;uninhabitable&quot; when the story first appeared in the +Rapid City Journal.+ &quot;We were able to get some clothes out of there, but a lot was lost,&quot; house guest Lonnie Weeg told the paper. Kor&#39;s girlfriend added that the experience has made her intimately aware of fire&#39;s fierceness. &quot;As soon as we got back to my house, we checked the fire detectors and changed things around a bit.&quot;


 

Kor and the others were supported by the generosity of local residents and the Red Cross, which considers home fires the "biggest disaster threat" to American families. (The organization responds to disasters every eight minutes--the majority being home fires.) In a recent letter to the editor, a Red Cross volunteer from New York shared his experience of aiding others during these tragedies and made a plea for home fire sprinklers in a state that recently voted down incorporating this safety feature in new homes.&#0160;


 

&quot;I know that residential structures are going to combust regardless of the safety features installed,&quot; wrote Patrick Kelsey in a letter published in the Times Union. &quot;But your home is your castle, and the state should require its construction to be protected by the very best materials and systems available. Until that day, I and hundreds like me will continue to respond to these disasters, and look forward to the day when safety takes precedence over cost.&quot;


 

Hear how others have been affected by home fires, and how home fire sprinklers may have altered the outcome. Spend a few minutes with NFPA&#39;s Faces of Fire,  specifically Princella Lee Bridges:


 


 


!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://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb087000a2970d-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb087000a2970d-320wi|alt=Silver sprinkler angle|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Silver sprinkler angle|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb087000a2970d img-responsive!A home improvement website recently placed fire sprinklers in the limelight, calling out seven advantages of having them installed in homes. According to their post, sprinklers are:


 

1. Affordable. The national average is $1.35 per sprinklered square foot, or a mere one percent of a home&#39;s total construction cost.&#0160;


 

2. Small. Today's fire sprinkler are inconspicuous and not the eyesores sprinkler opponents make them out to be.&#0160;


 

3. Easily installed. Sprinkler installers won&#39;t break their backs incorporating piping and sprinkler heads in new homes.&#0160;


 

4. Use minimal amounts of water.&#0160;Compare the water needed to fight a fire with a fire hose versus the water from sprinklers, and the difference is night and day. A study by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and FM Global proves this point.


 

5. Use affordable piping. Plastic piping used with home fire sprinklers has its benefits, including lower costs than metal piping.&#0160;


 

6. Activate closest to fire. Ninety percent of the time, only one sprinkler head will activate during a fire. All heads in the home do not activate simultaneously during fire.&#0160;


 

7. Provide adequate protection against the horrors of fire.&#0160;A home with working smoke alarms and fire sprinklers gives you the opportunity to sleep soundly at night, knowing you have the utmost in fire protection in your home.&#0160;


 

If you need more assurance on the necessity of fire sprinklers, watch this video of Anne Mazzola, one of NFPA's Faces of Fire who experienced a sprinkler save in her home:&#0160;


 


 


!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://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb086ee961970d-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb086ee961970d-320wi|alt=Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb086ee961970d img-responsive!The nonprofit&#0160;Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC)&#0160;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&#0160;HFSC&#0160;and&#0160;Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources&#0160;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&#0160;and submit it to FireSprinklerInitiative@NFPA.org by Thursday, September 10, 2015.&#0160;


!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

If there's one myth fire sprinkler advocates hear ad nauseum, it's the one about fire sprinkler ordinances driving up housing costs and forcing homeowners to seek cheaper alternatives in neighboring communities or states. A recent article in The New York Times notes that this couldn't be further from the truth.

 

California has been requiring sprinklers in new homes since 2011, and has not seen a negative impact on housing stock or affordability. In fact, as the story states, "there's a robust demand for housing." Take into consideration these figures highlighted in the story:

 

    • the Sacramento region has approved more than 280,000 housing units for construction
    • Shafter, California, is expecting to build an additional 3,000 homes
    • Newport Beach will see more than 1,300 new homes
    • Coachella is weighing a proposal to build 7,800 new homes

For a state that's expected to swell to 50 million people by 2050, protecting its growing population with this level of home protection aims to have a positive impact on reducing home fire deaths in decades to come.

 

A more immediate benefit is a fire sprinkler's ability to reduce the amount of water needed to fight fires, something seen as a necessity in drought-stricken California. Research by FM Global and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition has proven the environmental benefits of fire sprinklers via its groundbreaking study.

 

 

 

Made evident by NFPA's Faces of Fire Campaign, home fires are merciless. In its wake, burn survivors experience extensive hospital visits and surgeries that can last years. A new study now places a dollar amount on these treatments, and it isn't cheap. 

 

Released earlier this year, the report analyzed more than 1,100 adult patients injured in a flame injury at home during a 17-year period and admitted to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's burn unit in Ontario. (During that same period, there were more than 1,550 residential-fire-related deaths in the province.) Per the study, the estimated cost for a burn patient's stay at the hospital was $85,000 Canadian ($64,500 U.S.), with a total cost of more than $96 million Canadian ($72.8 million U.S.). Factor in rehabilitation programs, ambulance services, and property loss, and the total swells to more than $3 billion Canadian ($2.2 billion U.S.).

 

"The costs we came up with were the costs available to us, but we know it's just the tip of the iceberg," Joanne Banfield, manager of trauma injury prevention at Sunnybrook and one of the study's authors, tells NFPA. "We know the costs are higher than what we see on paper. We can't quantify the pain and suffering and those unknowns for those that survived."

 

Banfield and the other researchers made a point to underscore home fire sprinklers in the study, calling a targeted strategy for the implementation of these devices in new homes "imperative."

 

"The fact that we have a solution to this and it's really not an exorbitant cost...that was a lesson for me, and now I feel more empowered to share that fact with whomever I speak with. It almost empowers you to become an ambassador for it."

 

Read the study by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

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