Skip navigation
All Places > FSI > Blog > 2016 > January
2016

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c80e6e2d970b-800wi.jpg

Images of firefighter Phil Tammaro's injuries flashed on screens filling one of NFPA's conference rooms. Photos showcased burns on his legs he sustained at two years old during a 1971 home fire. For four decades, doctors had to treat these burns.

 

NFPA staff had mixed reactions to the images; some turned away while others couldn't take their eyes off the screens. However, they collectively applauded Tammaro for sharing his story in the hopes of increasing safety at home.

 

Tammaro is one of NFPA's newest Faces of Fire, a component of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative that humanizes today's home fire problem and necessity for fire sprinklers in all new homes. Since NFPA released his video last year, Tammaro has been promoting these devices as a component to his work as a fire and life safety educator with the Billerica Fire Department in Massachusetts. He's also sharing his story via his involvement with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

 

Watch the following video underscoring how Tammaro didn't let his burn injuries stop him from fulfilling his dreams, and why he now champions for home fire sprinklers:

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c80df093970b-800wi.jpg

The following was written by NFPA blogger Rick Ennis:

After writing six blog posts, I wanted to pause to reflect. If you have been a regular reader, thanks! Hopefully, you have caught on to the theme the first six blogs were intended to create.If you haven’t been a regular reader, I would encourage you to read my previous posts in the order they were written.

I have received some very positive feedback and constructive criticism. Some feel that I am merely stating the obvious and really not recommending how to resolve any issues. I would like to take this opportunity to address these points.

First, to those who feel I am merely stating the obvious: I agree, I am. And, that is why I am so frustrated with the status quo. Allow me to give you two examples. First, following the fatal house fire in Van Buren, New York, that took the life of two-year-old Nora Lamirande, I wrote a piece that I emailed to several fire service leaders. [Editor’s note: we posted the commentary on this blog, and it became the top viewed post of 2015, garnering more than 23,000 views]. I was honored that several of the leaders took the time to reply, but their replies were tempered. One reply was from a prominent fire researcher who, in response to my suggestion that computerized fire modeling be run on the Van Buren fire to show how a fire sprinkler could have changed the fire dynamics, correctly advised me that enough research has already been done to prove the effectiveness of fire sprinklers. He stated the problem is a political issue, not a matter of technology or a question of effectiveness. I agree.

Second, during a recent forum tackling pertinent issues facing the future of the fire service, I had the opportunity to suggest that fire sprinklers be given more attention by fire service leadership as a fire suppression and firefighter-safety issue. The highly respected panelists also agreed we are well past the discussion about whether fire sprinklers are effective. They said the discussion needs to be focused on how to better legislate home fire sprinklers. The discussion quickly segued to other topics.

If the effectiveness of fire sprinklers is so obvious (I agree it is), then why are home fire sprinklers only the norm in two states and a handful of communities nationwide? Why does a two year old die from fire in a new home and no one seems to care?

This brings me to the feedback I’ve received about not making any useful suggestions as to how to resolve the issue. On this point, I respectfully disagree. However, I am obviously failing at clearly communicating my point. So let me try again: I believe fire sprinklers have, for too long, been seen as a code-enforcement issue and left to the small percentage of the fire service that is considered to be on the “prevention side” of our noble profession. “Suppression people” are far too busy discussing real issues—the latest firefighting tactics, firefighter-safety issues, or customer service delivery method—to be bothered with home fire sprinklers. As a result, the fire service’s collective voice in the discussion has been relatively faint.

 

To resolve this issue, here’s my call to action: fire service leadership, organizations, groups, fire chiefs, fire service media, fire service training entities, and others made up primarily of “suppression people” at heart (like me) must start advocating for home fire sprinklers. These devices are a top fire-suppression tactic, a firefighter-safety issue, and the best fire suppression delivery model available.

If the entire voice of the fire service is unified, the political tides can eventually be turned. If we claim to know the obvious, then let’s truly act upon the obvious. If we are going to attempt to deal with fire dynamics in the modern built environment, then we need to ensure fire suppression is built into that environment. If we are going to claim to revolutionize the way we fight fires, then let’s do it now. Don’t worry suppression folks – there will still be plenty of fires to fight in the process.

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. Read all of Ennis' blog posts written for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c80d72cb970b-800wi.jpgSome might have simply accepted a code-making body's ruling to not sprinkler all new homes. But that's not what's occurring in New York.

Armed with more than 2,000 letters from New York residents supporting sprinklers, members of the New York Sprinkler Initiative recently hand delivered these notes to the New York Department of State's office in Albany. Last year, the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council voted to update the state's building code without the provision to sprinkler all new, one- and two-family homes. The initiative is now urging the Department of State--and its Division of Code Enforcement--to at least consider sprinklering all new townhomes. While initiative members support the sprinklering all homes, sprinklering new townhomes, they say, is the first step in making their ultimate goal a reality.

Various news outlets were on hand to video members of the initiative walking into the Department of State's building with letters of support in hand. The group was also there tovoice their support of sprinklers during a public hearing.

"Homes burn eight times faster than they used to because of both the construction materials and the residential materials in furnishings, carpeting, etc., that are in homes," Jerry DeLuca, initiative member and executive director of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, toldTime Warner Cable News. "They burn hotter, they burn faster, and they place both the residents' lives and the lives of firefighters in jeopardy."

What can you do to help support this cause? Here are some ideas.


6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08b136c3970d-320wi.jpgIn the latest issue of our Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, read how a New Jersey homeowner got a shocking response from his builder after requesting to have fire sprinklers installed in his new home. You’ll also find stories on:

 

  • NFPA’s response to a commentary filled with fire sprinkler inaccuracies and misstatements
  • why Kermit the Frog has it wrong: it’s easy being green (with fire sprinklers)
  • how air flow and a lack of home fire sprinklers impacted two deadly fires

 

Subscribing to our free, monthly newsletter is easy; simply fill out this simple form to make sure you're receiving top sprinkler news throughout North America directly to your inbox.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08b00245970d-800wi.jpgFire demonstrations. Opinion editorials. TV appearances.

These have been some of the tactics used by Maryland's safety advocates to defend the life-saving capability of the state's sprinkler requirement. Threatened by recent legislation to weaken this requirement, advocates have ramped up their effort to promote sprinklers in new homes. Their efforts seem to be working.

An editorial that appeared in the Carroll County Times stated that it hopes the legislation goes "up in smoke."

"We understand the burden on developers, particularly in recent years as the real estate bubble burst with ever-increasing federal and state regulations on homebuilding have cut into their profits. But this is one regulation we can get behind," stated the editorial.

Addressing cost concerns about installing sprinklers in rural communities that are on well and septic systems, the editorial noted that sprinklers are inexpensive in the grand scheme of home construction. "Spread [the average installation cost of $1.35 per sprinklered square foot] over a 30-year mortgage, and it's likely something you'll barely notice. Having fire sprinklers can also reduce your homeowner's insurance."

For more on this story, visit NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c80a5322970b-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c80a5322970b-800wi|alt=Riverdale home|title=Riverdale home|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c80a5322970b image-full img-responsive!


On May 5, 2014, a fire in a single-family home in Riverdale, Illinois, led to the unfortunate death of Dedra Matthews, who lived in the community for 12 years. The fire was less than a block from the firehouse.


 

That same year, Riverdale officials adopted a sprinkler ordinance in accordance with NFPA 13D, +Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.+ Fire Chief Robert Scharnhorst proposed the code upgrade to Mayor Lawrence Jackson. Following Jackson’s recommendation to Riverdale’s Village Board, the ordinance passed unanimously.  


Rebuilt to code, the house that suffered the fatal fire includes sprinkler protection. Village officials, the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) and the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition (IFSC) made the house an educational project. We wanted to help heal the wounds of the surviving family and educate the village and neighboring communities on home fire sprinkler requirements.


Architectural plans for the renovation were obtained from the general contractor. United States Alliance Fire Protection (USAFP) then sent a surveyor out to test the area water supply by flow testing a hydrant and conducting some internal measurements. USAFP developed a layout drawing, including hydraulic calculations, and determined a small tank and fire pump would be needed due to a narrow and corroded underground tap.


To simplify the home's sprinklers, Riverdale officials agreed to have the public works department replace the small, underground water tap with a larger one. A local plumber put in a new line and USAFP installed sprinklers prior to the drywall installation.


 

Following the installation, NIFSAB & IFSC conducted an educational open house and walkthrough in December 2015. A fire sprinkler demonstration trailer was on site and accompanied a presentation recognizing the homeowners and those involved with the project. A “Living with Sprinklers” kit from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition was also presented to the family.


!http://a3.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01bb08af2ad3970d-800wi|border=0|src=http://a3.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01bb08af2ad3970d-800wi|alt=Open house|title=Open house|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d01bb08af2ad3970d image-full img-responsive!

See the sprinklers? An open house showcases life safety



When the home is complete, another walkthrough will make sure the sprinklers function properly. The homeowners will also be encouraged to notify their insurance company of their eligibility of an insurance discount.


The installation was a heartfelt effort made possible by the Village Board, Chief Scharnhorst, Mayor Jackson, the village’s public works department, USAFP, B&F Construction, and Chicago Backflow, which contributed the backflow valve and system inspection certificate.

Finally we thank NFPA for providing the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition with a 2015 Bringing Safety Home Grant to help coordinate and promote the open house. The event is being used as a focal point for our educational efforts in the first half of 2016. 


Everyone’s efforts helped Dedra’s son, Frederick Matthews, and his daughters reside in the first home in Riverdale protected by fire sprinklers.


 

+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/287007737_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/287007737_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Branching out: Bolster your fire safety education efforts by creating a "sprinkler saves" tree

!http://i.zemanta.com/294048061_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/294048061_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Chief's unwavering stance on home fire sprinklers leads to sprinkler ordinance

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1946847970c-550wi.jpg

Doug Keaty, a general contractor from Fountain Hills, AZ, and formerly with the New Mexico Home Builders Association, attended a forum at the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition's exhibit booth in Las Vegas. After the session, he talked with HFSC's Peg Paul about what he heard from NFPA fire sprinkler expert Matt Klaus.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c80a5aba970b-550wi.jpgStudents from the University of Northern Iowa were among attendees at this morning's home fire sprinkler forum at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. Hosted by NFPA sprinkler expert Matt Klaus, the 1/2 hour forums in the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition's booth address common myths about sprinklers, system options, installation requirements, and trade-up benefits for builders and developers, including:

  • street width reduction
  • increased street grades and building set-backs
  • increased hydrant spacing
  • longer dead-end streets
6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08af235e970d-550wi.jpgAneta Piwowareztk of Las Vegas was the winner of a Smart TV at the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition's booth at the International Builders' Show. Aneta played the Built for Life game show with host Tom Clark, correctly answered a question about home fire sprinklers, and got to take a spin on our slot machine.
Lots more prizes available today, including another Smart TV. If you're here in Las Vegas, be sure to stop by Booth #C1053.

 

NFPA sprinkler expert Matt Klaus tells a story about friends who were concerned that their fire sprinklers would ruin the look of their new home.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d194412d970c-550wi.png

Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board -- and member of the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition, explains how home fire sprinklers are installed.

 

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition has exhibited at the International Builders’ Show for more than 15 years. And every year, there seems to be more interest and more understanding about the life-saving potential of sprinklers.

 

We chat with many builders, naturally, but also get to talk with real estate agents, developers, architects, and remodelers. And for the past few years, the show has co-located with KBIS, the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, so we’re also getting to meet interior designers, home design consultants, and other industry professionals.

With two states, the District of Columbia, and hundreds of cities and towns across the United States now requiring sprinklers in new homes, there’s no doubt there is increased awareness of the power of home fire sprinklers.

 

And I wonder if the proliferation of popular home design and improvement programs on HGTV and the DIY Network is also helping consumers better understand what’s behind the walls and above the ceilings in their homes.

 

We need to continue coming together on the issue of home fire sprinklers and help our audiences – the building industry, lawmakers, and homeowners and potential home buyers – understand that sprinklers are a simple, cost-effective way to add an enhanced level of safety to our homes.

 

Question: So whether it’s at a meeting of your sprinkler coalition, a side-by-side sprinkler demonstration, a town hall meeting, a fire department open house, or other opportunity to meet with your stakeholders, how are you helping to build on the growing understanding and acceptance of home fire sprinklers?

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c80a3ad5970b-550wi.jpg

Tom Clark of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition hosts the Built for Life game in the HFSC booth at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d193fe27970c-550wi.jpg

NFPA's Matt Klaus reviews NFPA's sprinkler standard with an attendee at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas.

 

I got a chance to walk around the enormous exhibit space at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas today, and I was floored by the array of new and innovate products that are on display. Lots of great ways to make your home more attractive, stylish, comfortable, secure, and safe.

 

From outdoor kitchens, spa bathrooms, rainwater harvesting systems, oodles of smart home technologies, to a $25,000 home elevator system, it seems the only limits are your imagination and your wallet.

 

And while it’s fun to dream about the fancy home upgrades, if I were building a new home today, there’s one very affordable feature that would help me sleep better at night, knowing that my family, our dog, our possessions, and our home would be protected in case of a fire.

 

Home fire sprinklers. At an average cost of $1.35 per square foot, installing sprinklers in a new 2,000 square foot home would cost about $2,700. What a great investment in safety! Consider this: if you have a fire in your home, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present.

 

So of all the choices homebuilders and buyers have to make when building a new home, installing fire sprinklers is an affordable way to ensure peace of mind.

Learn more by watching these short videos from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition that provide easy-to-understand information about why fire sprinklers are needed, how they work and how they are installed.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c809c11b970b-800wi.gif

Register today for NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative webinar, Home Fire Sprinklers: Enhancing Your Grassroots Effort, on Wednesday, February 3 @ 12:30 p.m. EST.

Why is this free webinar so important? Every community has their own challenges when planning and implementing home fire sprinkler educational programs. Challenges may be related to code activities, limited resources, housing starts, or anti-sprinkler activities. Thisfree, half-hour webinar will discuss the importance of recognizing those unique challenges, identifying target audiences, and how the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition's free resources can enhance your grassroots efforts.

Register today!

6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d1934fba970c-800wi.png

There were many nuggets of truth during a recent news story on home fires that appeared on NBC's "Today" and reported by Jeff Rossen:

  • Confirmed by research and the segment's dramatic demonstration, homes and the furniture housed in them are burning hotter and faster then ever before
  • Home escape plans should be created and practiced regularly (NFPA's free resources can help you accomplish this goal)
  • During a fire, if a smoke alarm sounds, leave your home immediately

However, there was a crucial component of home safety missing from the news story. As Rossen reported, the National Association of Home Builders told NBC that "building codes make actual homes safer these days." Improvements have included "draft stopping in concealed spaces, safer appliances, changes to the electrical code, and requiring hardwired, interconnected smoke alarms."

While accurate, the statement falls short in mentioning that all model building codes used in the U.S. have the requirement--not the option--to install fire sprinklers in all new homes. Furthermore, the news segment heavily emphasizes increasing the fire safety of upholstered furniture. While this improvement is an important point, home fire sprinklers have been proven to give residents ample amount to escape a home fire and (in many cases) extinguish a home fire completely--no matter the type of furniture in your home.

Let's do our part to politely ask the "Today" show to consider a follow-up segment underscoring home fire sprinklers, which can educate millions of its viewers on this life-saving technology. If you're on Twitter, send a tweet to @jeffrossen asking him to consider including fire sprinklers in a future "Rossen Reports." Also add your pro-sprinkler comments to his Facebook page. Scroll down to find the story on home fires. 

 

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08acd9ab970d-320wi.jpgThe following essay was written by Gregg Cleveland, fire chief for the La Crosse Fire Department in Wisconsin and chair of the Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition. A staunch supporter for home fire sprinklers, Cleveland masters the art of sarcasm:

 

For those that don’t remember, Ralph Nader was a formidable political activist in the 1960s and ‘70s. He put considerable pressure on the auto industry to make safety improvements, thus reducing the number of highway deaths. He was successful in convincing the auto industry to make cars safer for the American public. Unfortunately, Nader had it all wrong.

 

Many have compared the requirements or use of automatic fire sprinklers in homes to the auto industry’s development of safety features, specifically airbags. Similar to home fire sprinklers, airbags were once seen as an expensive and unnecessary feature. Cost is the biggest reason that state legislators pass laws prohibiting home fire sprinklers. The cost of fire sprinklers, say sprinkler opponents, increases the building costs of homes or apartments, no longer making them affordable. Laws prohibiting home fire sprinklers, they add, lower the cost of homes and rental properties and make them more affordable. Some view these laws as a type of economic-stimulus package.

 

What can the auto industry learn from laws prohibiting this type of safety at home? If the auto industry eliminated air bags, back up cameras, safety glass, ABS brakes, traction controls, and other safety-related features, the cost of cars and trucks would fall dramatically. The auto industry would see a dramatic increase in sales because vehicles would become more affordable. More people might buy new vehicles. Detroit could hire more auto workers, which would stimulate the country’s economy.

 

Obviously there would be a potential increase in injuries and deaths, but those losses would be offset by the economic stimulus. Hospitals and other medical facilities, intensive care units, and physical therapy personnel would see an increase in patients, creating a demand for skilled, health care workers. Colleges, universities, and technical colleges across America would flourish from the demand. Our unemployment rate should fall correspondingly.

State legislators could pass laws prohibiting vehicles to include additional safety improvements in vehicles, thus holding down the cost of vehicles and making them even more affordable. The Republican-lead legislature in Wisconsin is taking another step towards this type of economic stimulus via an Assembly bill, which would eliminate local sprinkler ordinances.

 

While I attended the public hearing and testified in opposition to repealing these ordinances, I am now rethinking my stance. Fewer sprinklers mean more fires. The increase in local property taxes would be offset by the increase in building activity and construction trades employment. Levy limits would no longer be an issue for local communities.

 

While I have dedicated my 37-year career to protecting lives and properties in several communities in Wisconsin, I realize I had it wrong, just like Ralph Nader.

The opinions expressed by Gregg Cleveland, a fire sprinkler advocate, are a sarcastic response to sprinkler opponents. He does not endorse the weakening of automobile safety requirements, just as doesn't endorse the weakening of model-building-code requirements for new homes, particularly the requirement for home fire sprinklers.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8078773970b-800wi.jpg

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team constantly hears comments from the fire service and other safety advocates that in order to create tomorrow's safer homes, we need to better educate our children today. As future homeowners, children can play a crucial role in bolstering demand for home fire sprinklers. The more educated a child gets on home fire sprinklers, the more likely they are to demand this safety feature as adults.

The creative minds at the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition have developed an entire website,SprinklerSmarts.org, crammed with interactive videos, games, and lesson plans on home fire sprinklers. Whether you're a member of the fire service, teacher, or parent (or perhaps all of the above), there are materials and activities catered to your group. The resources are also broken up into two age brackets: Kindergarten to grade 5 & grades 6 to 8. There are informative, "Sprinkler 101" lessons for the younger group and tutorials on the engineering behind sprinklers for the older children that are explained in layman's terms. Having played the games myself, I can attest that they are addictive and informative.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c82776f1970b-120wi.jpgPlease do your part to make 2016 The Year of the Fire Sprinkler. VisitSprinklerSmarts.org and incorporate lessons on home fire sprinklers into your outreach and educational endeavors this year. Also, watch this video that gives you an overview of the materials on SprinklerSmarts.org:

 

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8065e62970b-800wi.jpg

Advertised as "the perfect meld of easy, maintenance-free living ... with wonderful amenities," Tuscany Townhomes in Elko, Nevada, has something even more special in its homes: fire sprinklers.

A recent news report has labeled the new development as having "the first fire sprinklers within a single-family dwelling in Elko." And it appears the builder is joining the fire department in praising the devices. "This is our first venture with fire sprinklers [in the Elko area] so it was kind of a learning process, but I have to say it was fairly simple," Dusty Shipp, owner of Braemar Construction, told the Elko Daily Free Press. "They're not complicated at all as far as putting into a home."

Noting that fire sprinklers will be a mainstay in the building industry either by consumer choice or state requirements, Shipp added that his company received a break on insurance costs due to the installations. He even dismissed the popular myth that sprinklers cause more water damage than the actual fire. (Here's how to counter it.)

Also praising the new sprinklers was Josh Carson, Elko Fire Department's fire marshal. The devices added a necessary layer of fire protection since the development's narrow streets prevented fire trucks from easily accessing the property. Street width reduction is one of the many trade-ups builders experience when installing fire sprinklers.

"The inclusion of fire sprinklers in single-family dwellings is a reliable, life-safety and property-protection tool to combat and reduce the fire threat and the risk of mortality," said Carson.


6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08b686e0970d-120wi.jpgBelieve it or not, there are builders out there who have embraced home fire sprinklers. Get to know them by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

 

 

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d18faa63970c-800wi.jpg

Members of the New York Sprinkler Initiative are seeking help in support of a statewide, sprinkler requirement.

The Initiative has advocated for the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council to adopt the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) in its entirety, including the provision to install sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes. Unfortunately, the 2015 IRC was adopted but the sprinkler provision was removed. The Initiative is now gathering support for requiring home fire sprinklers in new townhouses. This would be a first step in assuring these life-saving devices are installed in all new residences statewide.

Please sign and send this letter to Mark Blanke with the New York Department of State's Division of Code Enforcement, urging the Code Council to include sprinklers. (Even if you're not a New York resident, as the letter states, please alter the language to show your support for this endeavor.) Use these talking points when stating your case for fire sprinklers to the public or media.

For additional resources, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Advocacy and Awareness Toolkit page created by the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs.

 

 

 !http://a1.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d18e69e9970c-800wi|border=0|src=http://a1.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d18e69e9970c-800wi|alt=Sprinkler save|title=Sprinkler save|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d01b8d18e69e9970c image-full img-responsive!


Burnt, but not destroyed: the aftermath of a grease fire following a fire sprinkler activation


In no particular order, here are examples of fire sprinkler activations that have occurred over the past few months. For those doubting the necessity of these devices in new homes, pay close attention to the fire officials' statements in each anecdote:


 

Maple Ridge, British Columbia
Two recent home fires in this town had starkly different outcomes. Firefighters arriving to the first one reported heavy smoke and flames. They immediately performed an interior rescue involving a wheelchair-bound man and his daughter. Firefighters also had to rescue residents trapped on their balconies. During their efforts, a firefighter was injured and four occupants were transferred to the hospital. It took firefighters three hours and 24,000 gallons of water to control the blaze.


Firefighters responded to the second incident at a sprinkler-protected home. A single sprinkler kept the fire under control until the fire crews arrived. Fire damage was contained to the area of origin.  


"The primary reason for the marked difference in outcomes of these two events was the presence of fire sprinklers," says Timo Juurakko, assistant chief with the City of Maple Ridge Fire Department. "No one can argue the difference that fire sprinklers make."


 

Stoughton, Massachusetts<br />Firefighters responded to a call of a fire inside a first-floor apartment. When they opened the door, they encountered smoke, not flames. A stovetop, grease fire was immediately extinguished by sprinklers. The women living in the apartment and her friend were able to exit the building safely. &quot;This could have been a major disaster,&quot; the town&#39;s Interim Fire Chief Gregory Goldberg told a local newspaper. &#0160;&quot;Fire alarms save lives, and sprinklers save lives and buildings.&quot;


 

Rapid City, South Dakota<br />The home of America&#39;s newest sprinkler coalition, South Dakota also witnessed a recent sprinkler save.&#0160;A woman was frying chicken when the grease in the pan ignited, prompting her&#0160;to try and smother the fire with a blanket.&#0160;When that didn&#39;t work, she placed the burning pan in the sink. (Here are NFPA's safety considerations for cooking with oil.) Flames ignited the picture above the sink, which set off a single sprinkler. The activation resulted in minimal damage to her home.&#0160;

"There was a heavy fire load surrounding the sink, and this had the potential to become quite devastating," says Jody Telkamp, administrative assistant with the Rapid City Fire Department and member of the South Dakota Fire Sprinkler Coalition. 


 

Elko, Nevada<br />Another cooking fire in an Elko home was stopped in its tracks by sprinklers. Since the damage from the fire was so mild, residents were able to vacate the home soon after the incident. &quot;Had this building been an unprotected building, the fire would have likely caused severe damage to the building, displacing all of the residents (and) threatening the lives of the occupants,&quot; says Fire Marshal Joshua Carson with the Elko Fire Department.&#0160;


 


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d18e69ac970c-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d18e69ac970c-120wi|alt=Act-Now-small|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Act-Now-small|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d18e69ac970c img-responsive!


 

Have you seen or heard of a&#0160;sprinkler save in your community? Let us know, and we&#39;ll highlight it on this blog. Also, please make use of this handy document produced by the California Fire Sprinkler Coalition instructing you on how to communicate home fire sprinklers to the media.&#0160;&#0160;


 


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/331821515_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/331821515_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Missouri summit thrusts home fire sprinklers into the spotlight

!http://i.zemanta.com/noimg_58_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/noimg_58_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!NFPA responds to critique of home fire sprinklers and claim that the fire service will financially benefit from sprinkler requirements

!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/334869796_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/334869796_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!New tool gives guidance on talking home fire sprinklers with the media

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08a8d985970d-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08a8d985970d-800wi|alt=HFSC FM Global study|title=HFSC FM Global study|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08a8d985970d image-full img-responsive!


Sorry Kermit, but it truly is easy being green. 


 

As green homes gain momentum, per a recent news article, so should the notion of installing home fire sprinklers. That&#39;s the stance taken in a story&#0160;that appeared on Treehugger.com. Underscored in the article is the difference between old-fashioned lumber and newly engineered wood under fire. Builders are also embracing optimum value engineering, or advanced framing, which &quot;meets structural requirements without wasting material,&quot; states the article.&#0160;


But this notion to create something more environmentally friendly comes with a price. "Less material means less extra stuff to hold it up when there is a fire," states the article. "It's one of the reasons that firefighters (and TreeHugger) have been suggesting that all houses should have sprinklers." 


As concerns mount over the safety of flame retardants used in home furniture, similar concerns should be addressed about the safety of building materials when exposed to fire. "If we really are serious about green building and safe building, then sprinklers should be part of the package," the article states.


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08a8d8e7970d-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08a8d8e7970d-120wi|alt=Act-Now-small|style=margin: 0px auto 5px; display: block;|title=Act-Now-small|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08a8d8e7970d img-responsive!


 


 

For more on the environmental benefits of fire sprinklers, download the report on this topic produced by FM Global and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and watch the following video:


 


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/238252819_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/238252819_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire sprinklers in new homes: Why should firefighters care?

!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

Home fire
Two deadly fires that recently occurred in my home state of Missouri prompted this blog post.

The first incident, as I understand it, involved a fire in a non-sprinklered, four-story, eight-unit, wood-frame condo built around 1980. The fire began on the fourth floor in an open wooden stairway in the center of the units. Upon smelling smoke, a well-intentioned, untrained, unprotected customer of fire-suppression services (aka the occupant) opened his front door to discover a fire involving the wooden deck of the stairway and some vinyl siding. Leaving his door open, the occupant ran to his kitchen to get a pot of water. He threw the water on the fire but couldn’t control it. Again leaving the door open, the occupant returned to his kitchen for more water.

In the meantime, the condo began filling with smoke. The occupant opened the balcony door opposite the front door in an attempt to clear the smoke. He stepped onto the balcony to get some fresh air and rub his burning eyes. The fire in the condo developed rapidly, and the occupant turned his attention to the four children sleeping in two bedrooms. Unable to reenter the condo due to the intensifying heat and smoke, the occupant climbed down the balcony to escape.

The highly trained, well-equipped deliverers of fire-suppression services (aka the fire department) arrived within minutes. The team made an aggressive fire attack and search-and-rescue operation. They found the four children and two adults trapped in a unit. The children were treated and transported to the hospital, but unfortunately all four died.

The second incident involved a fire in a non-sprinklered, two-story, wood-frame, 3,200-square-foot, single-family dwelling built in 1994. The fire began on the first floor. Upon discovering the fire, a well-intentioned, untrained, unprotected customer of fire-suppression services (aka the occupant) opened both the front and back doors in an attempt to get the dogs out of the house. The fire developed quickly but the occupant escaped. However, a guest in the home that was reporting the fire to 911 died. 

The highly trained, well-equipped deliverers of fire-suppression services (aka the fire department) arrived in minutes to find the home 75 percent involved. They were unable to conduct an interior fire attack or primary search. The body of the guest trapped on the second floor was later recovered.

These two incidents and countless others like them got me to thinking about air flow, fire dynamics, human behavior, and fire sprinklers. Many have long understood the effects of air flow on fire development. My grandfather knew fresh air made an interior fire grow when, as a fire chief in the 1950s, he used to order his firefighters not to open anything in a home. Those of us who responded to home fires in the 1980s understood why this was important every time a police officer would arrive ahead of us and kick in the doors to search for occupants. There were no occupants most of the time, but there was a working fire to attack.

More recently, those researching fire have coined the term “flow path.” I love this term, as it clearly depicts the concept that fire development along the pathway of air flow increases significantly, rapidly, and (often) fatally. This problem is intensified when the flow path is affected by strong air currents, prompting the term, “wind-driven fires.” Flow paths can be created naturally when, for example, a window fails from the heat of the developing fire. Or they can be created manually, such as when a police officer opens a door or window.

Researchers are stressing the importance of fire suppression personnel understanding the impact of flow paths and impact on firefighting tactics and firefighter safety. So much so, that the tactical acronyms rooted in 60 years of firefighter training are now being changed to emphasize the importance of identifying and controlling flow paths.

Failure to identify and control flow paths is now being recognized as a main contributing factor in several line-of-duty firefighter deaths. That being stated, what is the most effective and safest manner to control fire development due to air flow?

One way is to control the air flow. Educating firefighters and civilians on flow paths is a good first step. They can consciously coordinate the opening and closing of doors, windows, and other ventilation features of a building during a fire. This method will have limitations, since civilians might not react accordingly during unexpected and stressful fires.

Another method is to control the fire before the air flow has a significant impact on its growth and spread. Fire sprinklers could achieve this task within minutes of ignition. Outcomes would not be significantly affected by the reaction of well-intentioned, untrained, unprotected customers of fire-suppression services (occupants). This would also be more effective and efficient than awaiting even the fastest response of highly trained, well-equipped deliverers of fire-suppression services (firefighters), even with our pre-connected hoselines.

We need to continue efforts to educate people on air flow and home fire sprinklers or we will continue to experience the same types of fire I’ve mentioned for decades to come.

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. Read all of Ennis' blog posts written for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8026e2a970b-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8026e2a970b-320wi|alt=Minnesota|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Minnesota|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8026e2a970b img-responsive!It wasn&#39;t the happiest start to the new year for fire officials in Minnesota.&#0160;


 

The state&#39;s Supreme Court recently announced it will not review the decision made by the state's Court of Appeals to overturn the state's sprinkler requirement.&#0160;The Supreme&#0160;Court&#39;s inaction means the state requirement to sprinkler new, one- and two-family homes greater than 4,500 square feet&#0160;can no longer be enforced.


 

The state&#39;s Department of Labor&#0160;and Industry crafted the requirement that took&#0160;effect last year. The Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned the ruling in October 2015 after the Builders Association of the Twin Cities sued the department. The court ruled that the 4,500-foot threshold was arbitrary. &quot;We believe there&#39;s virtually no safety value to sprinklers, and there&#39;s extremely high costs,&quot; David Siegal, executive director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, told a local news outlet.


 

The Association of Minnesota Fire Chiefs has a different opinion.&#0160;Speaking on behalf of the association, Saint Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard told the local media that he was baffled by builders who&#0160;wouldn&#39;t want to construct&#0160;and sell the safest products for their customers. &quot;We have the solution to saving thousands of lives from tragic, painful deaths from fires,&quot; he told a local NBC affiliate. &quot;We have the solution. We just need to use it.&quot;


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8026e14970b-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8026e14970b-120wi|alt=Act-Now-small|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Act-Now-small|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8026e14970b img-responsive!


 


 

Help spread the word about this &quot;solution.&quot; Use these free, downloadable materials from NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative.


 


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/324894866_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/324894866_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Home fire sprinkler opponents fight new law in Minnesota

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: