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2016

With the help of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team was introduced to a Connecticut homebuilder who has seen the light. John Dempsey heard the many opinions about home fire sprinklers from his peers: the exorbitant cost, the leaking, the hassle. Following some education on sprinkler performance by NFSA and his local fire chief, Dempsey now knows that these opinions are baseless.

 

Dempsey joins NFPA Regional Director Bob Duval in a new video produced by NFPA to discuss Dempsey's involvement with sprinklering one of his new homes--and why he's now a firm believer for home fire sprinklers.

 

Watch the video

 

Orange County, North Carolina, celebrated its 150th fire sprinkler installation inside a Habitat for Humanity home in March. The local chapter has been installing sprinklers in homes since 2003 as a means to provide the utmost level of protection for new homeowners.

 

"Our affiliate considers fire sprinklers an important part of our building philosophy," says Tyler Momsen-Hudson, construction director with Habitat for Humanity Orange County. "We strive to build safe, durable, energy-efficient, affordable housing, and we are committed both to installing sprinklers in our houses and in promoting sprinklers in all houses."

 

A local partnership between the local Habitat affiliate and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, firefighters prompted the sprinkler installations. Dan Jones, now retired chief of the Chapel Hill Fire Department, initially suggested the partnership.

 

To date, the sprinklers have activated four times in the past 13 years, notes Momsen-Hudson. Three of the four fires were started by unattended cooking, while the fourth was the result of a clogged dryer vent. The kitchen fires occurred while the residents were home, though nobody was home during the dryer fire. In all cases, the sprinklers extinguished the fires and prevented injuries.

 

Since North Carolina's building code doesn't include the requirement for sprinklering new homes, Momsen-Hudson makes it a point to underscore the benefits of this safety feature to new residents. (The North Carolina Fire Sprinkler Coalition is also championing for sprinklers in new homes.) "We want to build safer homes for our families," he says. At the dedication ceremony of the 150th sprinklered home, retired Chief Jones made a point to underscore larger and more expensive homes built in Orange County while noting "the safest houses in the county were Habitat houses."

 

 

 

 

 

An Oregon couple are the winners of a giveaway being lauded as an effective tactic to promote home fire safety.

 

Mike and Judy Hall of White City (about four hours south of Portland) were the ecstatic winners of a free, fire sprinkler installation. The contest was made possible by a partnership including the Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalition and will be used to showcase the benefits of this protection to the public and the media."We are excited to be a partner in this voluntary effort to help raise awareness of this life-saving and affordable technology that has a proven track record,"; said coalition member Chase Browning.

 

Oregon's Jackson Fire District Three, another partner for the giveaway,backs the installation of home fire sprinklers. In a flyer promoting the contest, it highlighted

key sprinkler data by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

Also on board for the project was Claudio Alvarez Construction and Pacific Fire Protection.

 

 

"We'd like to help educate people that sprinklers are not just for commercial buildings and saving product, but are also for your home and the well-being and safety of your family," says Vern Roberts with Pacific Fire Protection.

 

The installation is expected to be completed by May. Meanwhile, the homeowners are singing the praises of their home's anticipated addition. "We live in a county which lengthens our emergency response time in the event of a fire," says Judy Hall. "Sprinklers will give us peace of mind knowing we will be able to evacuate safely."

 

 

 

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1b3e9b6970c-320wi.jpgIn the latest edition of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, read how safety advocates in Maryland defeated a bill that would have weakened the state sprinkler requirement. You’ll also read about:

 

  • an Arizona town that has sprinklered more than half of its homes
  • why we need to be asking the presidential candidates their stance on fire safety
  • a new report that cites a lack of sprinklers in a high-profile fire that killed two firefighters

Don't miss an issue--subscribe to this free newsletter today! Since its a monthly publication, we promise it won't clutter your inbox.

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In my last post, I posed the question, “When do new homes become old homes?” In this post, I continue analyzing the sprinkler opponent’s argument that fire sprinklers need not be required in new homes because new homes are safer from fire than old homes.

 

People who make this claim point to improved electrical wiring and circuits; updated furnaces and appliances; improved vertical and horizontal fire separations; larger windows, especially provided in basements with bedrooms; and the installation of smoke alarms. It is true that these improvements do help reduce some causes of home fires and some avenues of fire spread. These improvements also help facilitate occupant escape when fire occurs.

 

However, none of these improvements will suppress a fire in a new home. Moreover, fires can still occur in new homes. Once one does, none of these improvements suppress the rapid fire development associated with the modern built environment.

 

It must be pointed out that in many ways, new homes are less safe than older homes when it comes to fires. Modern open floor plans allow more rapid spread of heat, smoke, fire gases, and flames throughout a home, and provide more voluminous amounts of oxygen to feed the fire. The increased use of low-mass, lightweight structural components used in modern homes promote fire spread and fail more rapidly when exposed to fire than structural components used in homes of decades past.

 

Despite a home’s age, increased fire loads and hard-to-control flow paths impact fire dynamics in a way that make home fires less safe for occupants and firefighters. A new home could be built out of concrete and steel with arc-proof wiring, natural heating and cooling, and multiple smoke alarms monitored by an alarm agency. But load up that home with today’s furnishings and provide a couple doors and windows that fail or are opened at an inopportune time, and we have life-threatening fire conditions.

 

Ironically, many of the improvements often cited by homebuilders, Realtors, and politicians as making new homes safer are now the norm because they have been made part of residential building codes. When introduced, these requirements were also fought by the same group of people for the same reasons. They feared that increased costs related to new code requirements would stifle new home construction and new home sales. And yet, new construction and new home sales continued. Each decade, these new homes are touted as being safer than homes built in previous decades.

 

Improvements not related to code changes were sometimes an ancillary result of cost-saving building techniques. Why, for example, did balloon-frame construction end in the 1960s? It wasn’t because of code changes or consumer demand. The decreasing availability and increasing cost of two-by-fours adequate enough to construct a two-story-high wall led to the platform-frame style of home construction. It just so happened that platform-frame construction created natural fire stopping between floors. Cost-saving building techniques can just as easily result in less-safe homes when exposed to fire. The most obvious example is the use of lightweight, low-mass engineered wood products primarily used today due to lower construction costs.

 

Does a home’s construction have any bearing on the sprinkler opponent’s claim that “more fire deaths and injuries occur in older homes than new ones?” Is this not simply because there are more “old homes” in our nation than “new homes?” It would be an interesting, albeit nearly impossible, study to evaluate the percentage of fire injuries and deaths per the age of homes available. I am not sure it would be possible to know how many homes built in each decade are currently available in the nation’s housing stock. In fact, I am not sure we can track the number of fire incidents, fire deaths, or injuries occurring in homes built in each decade. Perhaps the “year of construction” should be a required field in the National Fire Incident Reporting System.

 

Which takes me back to the original question: When does a new home become an old home? This question leads us to the most important question of them all: When are we going to start installing home fire sprinklers in new homes before they become unprotected old homes?

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Rightfully so, smoke alarms typically get a mention at the scene of home fires. In front of news cameras and intrepid journalists, the fire official lets the public know whether or not these devices were present and operational. What's now occurring across North America are forward-thinking safety advocates also making a pitch for home fire sprinklers.

 

Take, for instance, a residential fire that occurred late last year in Millbury, Massachusetts. A 56-year-old disabled woman died in the blaze. Though not a one- or two-family home, the residence--like its smaller counterparts--would have benefited from fire sprinklers. The original plan of the building may have been reduced in size to avoid having sprinklers installed, Fire Chief Richard P. Hamilton told the Telegram and Gazette. "This [fire] really brings to light how sprinklers would have helped," he said. "Sprinklers would have saved a life."

 

In the Canadian city of Calgary, a fire marshal there has a similar mindset. Earlier this month, fire destroyed four homes there, prompting a promotion for home fire sprinklers. The end goal, he said, would be to better equip homes to fight and resist today's fires. "Eventually, the ultimate would be residential fire sprinklers," Calgary Chief Fire Marshal Ed Kujat told the local Metro newspaper. "If a fire started on the inside than a sprinkler would snuff out that fire locally. Hopefully that would result in lives and property being saved."

 

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c82776f1970b-120wi.jpgDownload this popular resource produced by the California Fire Sprinkler Coalition giving tips on how to promote home fire sprinklers to the media.

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If you haven't read the first installment of Rob Feeney's experience during The Station Nightclub fire in 2003, please do. It's a well-written, albeit horrific, account of the night that turned Feeney into an advocate for fire sprinklers. In this latest installment, Feeney recalls what he experienced--or thought he experienced--immediately afterwards as the truth about his fiancé, also at The Station the night of the fire, unfolds:

 

I don’t remember if I lost consciousness on the way to the hospital or if I was given something to knock me out. I do know I was intubated and placed in a medically induced coma for about 10 days. During that time, I had what I called morphine dreams. It took me years to figure out what were dreams and what was reality.

These dreams were a combination of people and events from my past and events in my hospital room. There were friends from elementary school. My brother made frequent appearances, which was strange since I had only seen him once or twice over the past decade before the fire. There were other relatives, celebrities I had never met. There was also a lot of fire. A lot of chaos. A lot of violence and a lot of pain. I was always trying to get somewhere to get help, but would always be trapped.

 

I didn’t dream about The Station Nightclub, but places like Boardwalk and Baseball, an amusement park in Orlando I visited when I was 16. In my dreams, it burned down as I was on a roller coaster alone. I also dreamt of the Burger King at the Route 6 rest area in Hyannis, Massachusetts, but this time it was a movie set. I was auditioning for a part. It also burned down. No matter who I was with or where I was, everything turned into a war zone around me. Houses and buildings I were in would burn down. Roads I drove and walked down wound up being surrounded by fire.

 

In my dreams, I would eventually make it to the hospital. There was one dream where a part of the hospital where animals were treated was on fire. My relatives were in the hospital dreams. There were fights and violence in the hospital segments. At one point, a fight in an overcrowded ER escalated into it being set on fire. Many people were trapped. I was rushed down a hallway into another room. Then the dreams changed. They became more reflective of the reality going on around me as I was awakening from the induced coma.

 

When I first awoke, I had little vision and wasn’t fully aware of the extent of my injuries. I was fighting to stay awake. I remember seeing snow outside. I remember my parents coming in and my father arguing with a doctor about my surgery schedule. He was asked to leave the hospital for fighting with a surgeon. From the outside, he threw snowballs at the staff. He was chased until eventually caught, which caused him to have a heart attack. My surgeon saved him. This turned out to be a dream.

 

While coming back to reality, I could feel physically that something was not right. I was freezing. I remember shivering uncontrollably. Nurses would frequently check my temperature, and each time it rose higher and higher. I was given something for my fever, but it would rise again in a couple hours. At one point, I remember a nurse saying my temperature exceeded 104 degrees. I was shivering to the point of convulsions. I was having trouble breathing. A whole crew of nurses and doctors were now tending to me.

 

One doctor ordered the others to check all my wounds for infection. I was so cold, yet felt like I was burning inside. My legs were literally bouncing off the bed. I couldn’t control it. A female doctor with the respiratory team told me she was going to place a tube in my mouth to help me breath. I could feel my eyes rolling into the back of my head. I couldn’t keep them open anymore. I could still hear voices around me. They were talking to me and to each other about me. I could feel their hands on me. I was feeling like I was floating, feet first, turning upside down. The voices around me went from rather distinct to what seemed like thousands of voices around me. I couldn’t see anyone or make out any specific voice or conversation. The floating sensation stopped, and I now felt like I was being sucked upward through a tube feet first at a ridiculously fast speed. It turned out that I had a staph infection that led to respiratory failure. I was back in an induced coma. I was again intubated to help me breathe.

 

One of my last dreams was the most vivid, and perhaps the scariest. I was in a hospital bed. The room was odd, since it had a bunch of chairs lined up in rows behind my bed. I could see what I thought was the nurses' desk in the corner by a door. My fiancé, Donna, was there. She was talking to the nurse and had her daughter with her. The two were dressed up. They walked towards me, hand in hand, and sat in the front row. They sat sadly next to each other. Donna started talking to everyone entering the room. None came over to me, though. They just walked past me and sat down. Then Donna came over to me. I tried to talk to her. I tried asking her what was wrong. She placed her hand on my right shoulder and told me not to talk. She said I was not well, and I needed to rest and not speak. I watched her walk away. The chairs were now gone, except for a few. Donna sat down, then laid down. Her arms were across her chest, her hands clasped. She was sleeping. I wanted to talk to her. I yelled her name. She wouldn’t wake up. However, I did.

 

This time when I woke, I felt different. I was angry, alone, scared. Everything was blurred, but I could see nurses and doctors as they entered and exited my room. When a nurse came into my room, she didn’t ask many questions. I remember asking a nurse about Donna’s whereabouts. I asked her to call her for me because I couldn’t find the phone in my room. I began to get angry that nobody was telling me why I was in the hospital when I was sure I was only having some “touch-up” surgery on my hands. Eventually, my parents walked into the room. They weren’t alone. There was a large amount of medical personnel with them. I didn’t need anyone to say anything to me. I could feel it. I saw the looks on their faces. I knew. They had just returned from Donna’s funeral. This was no dream.

 

Rob Feeney recently became a call firefighter with the Onset Fire Department in Massachusetts and advocates for fire sprinklers and fire safety issues nationwide for the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and Common Voices. Visit this blog often for future posts from Rob. For more information on advocacy training conducted by Phoenix, visit the organization's site.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08cc0e0c970d-320wi.jpgEstablishing a fire sprinkler ordinance seems like the next logical step for the town of Camas, Washington. Its city council will vote in April to require this form of protection in all new homes--a protection that's fairly widespread in Camas.

"We manage to get fire sprinklers installed mandatorily in almost all new construction because of our fire code," Fire Chief Nick Swinhart told the Camas-Washougal Post Record. "It has to do with certain things like access to water, access and egress to fire vehicles, and road width." (With the help of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative has pieced together a list of these trade-ups that can reduce home construction costs if sprinklers are considered.)

Washington already has a half-dozen towns with a sprinkler ordinance. (Get the full list by visiting the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition webpage.) Adding Camas to the list would increase the number of sprinklered homes there, which is currently estimated to be about 2,000.

"We already have sprinklers installed in over 90 percent of new construction," Swinhart told the paper. "[The ordinance] would be a very small change. But it would be very cool, as far as I'm concerned, to get our names on the list with cities like Olympia and some of the bigger ones up north in King County that have had ordinances like this on the books for several years."

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c82776f1970b-120wi.jpgDownload the NFPA report, "Incentives for the Use of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems in U.S. Communities," for more information on the benefits of this life-saving device.

 

 

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1b02863970c-320wi.jpgDuring the current code cycle for the 2018 edition of the International Residential Code, a number of proposals were submitted to weaken and potentially eliminate the requirement to sprinkler all new, one- and two-family homes. Seen as a crucial component of life safety at home, this requirement has been included in all model building codes for several cycles. It is critical that it remains in the IRC .

We are urging all of our safety advocates to take action in order to keep this requirement in the next edition of the IRC. Certain deadlines are rapidly approaching, so please act quickly:

  • Register your jurisdiction as an ICC voting governmental member. If your jurisdiction/fire department is or has been an ICC member, verify that the membership has been renewed and is current. If your jurisdiction/department has not previously been an ICC member, please join today. Renewals and new member applications must be submitted no later than Friday, March 18 to be eligible for voting in the 2016 code cycle.
  • Designate your voting representatives. Each year, voting governmental member organizations are required to designate authorized voters. Even if you aren’t changing assignments from previous years, you must renew appointments prior to March 18, or you will lose your votes for the upcoming hearing.
  • Participate in online voting. Unlike previous code cycles, it is no longer necessary to attend code hearings in person to vote. However, steps one and two above must be completed to have voting eligibility.

Your vote and your voice have the power to protect a requirement that NFPA has proven can reduce the risk of dying in home fires by an outstanding 80 percent. Please don’t delay—take action today.

 

The New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC), a member of the New York Sprinkler Initiative, has launched a campaign aimed at educating residents about the life-saving benefits of home fire sprinklers. Made possible by FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention & Safety Grant Program, the campaign is partly aimed at dispelling the many myths of sprinklers, particularly that they are costly to install. (Here's more information on the national average.) While housing costs vary from region to region, the overall cost of home fire sprinklers ends up being around one percent of the total new build cost.

"We firmly believe if homebuyers are made aware of the cost benefit of home fire sprinklers they will opt to have them installed," says NYSAFC President Dan Schwertfeger. "This is especially true when they learn that new homes and the content contained in new homes burn eight times faster than older homes and older furniture."

 

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Ron Siarnicki with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation stands with the Maryland fire service during a video supporting the state's home fire sprinkler requirement

 

 

A legislative bill that riled fire sprinkler advocates for its ability to eliminate a crucial piece of life safety for Maryland residents has been defeated.

Pre-filed in 2015 and sponsored by Maryland Delegate Christopher Adams, the bill would have given local counties the ability to opt out of the state’s sprinkler requirement. Adams told local media outlets that the state’s law has the ability to negatively impact new home construction, a myth extensively countered by NFPA research.

Maryland media have focused on home fire sprinklers since the state updated its building code last year, with many outlets favoring the position of fire sprinkler opponents. “Most of the papers were on Delegate Adams’ side,” Richard Smith, vice chair of the legislative committee for the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, tells NFPA. The firemen’s association has its own residential sprinkler committee, which worked to fight the bill. “He got more publicity than we did.”

Foreshadowing an uphill battle, Smith and fire service members began meeting with legislators the summer before the bill was filed. “We knew it was coming,” he says. “We knew which committee it was going to and which subcommittee it would wind up in. We started visiting [committee members] and asking them for support. We brought documents with us. A lot of the information that was being passed out [from sprinkler opponents] was, as usual, incorrect.”

Smith says he shared with legislators information on Maryland building permits dated as far back as five years. Certain areas, such as Prince George’s County, has had sprinkler ordinances dating back to the early ‘90s that have had a direct impact in saving lives and reducing fire-related injuries. In other areas, says Smith, building booms were occurring. “In one county [strictly against a sprinkler requirement], we spoke to a number of contractors who said they were holding permits because they didn’t have the time to build all of the homes,” he adds.

Maryland’s fire service also conducted close to 10 live burn/fire sprinkler demonstrations since October. “We had several of the burns filmed and sent to legislators,” says Smith. “When they see something like that happen, it opens their eyes. I gave it to the chair of the legislative committee, and they showed it at a committee meeting.” The demonstrations attracted positive media coverage, as did a series of commentaries penned by local firefighters.

Local advocates also linked up with Sher Grogg, who lost her brother, sister-in-law, and three nieces and nephews in a catastrophic home fire last year in Maryland. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation produced a video of her advocacy work. She also shared her story with local legislators.

When it came time for a public hearing on the sprinkler bill this year, the fire service and safety groups responded in full force. Representatives from NFPA and fire sprinkler installers were present to oppose the bill. “Our whole campaign was about life safety,” says Smith. “We kept emphasizing that the [building] standards in Maryland are the minimum standards [found in all model building codes].”

All of these tactics worked; the bill recently died after committee members voted not to move it forward.

Though the bill has died, steps to promote home fire sprinklers have not dwindled. “I’m going to visit each one of the legislators and thank them, and then we will start again by supplying them with good information, just in case [another bill] comes up next year,” says Smith. Another live burn demo is also planned this week.

For sprinkler advocates fighting similar legislation, Smith offers this advice:  “[Fighting anti-sprinkler legislation] takes a lot of time and dedication. I’ve been here since June working on this, along with other people from the association. Make friends with your legislators. Gain their trust. Supply them with honest-to-goodness facts. Emphasize that this is a life-safety issue for the homeowner and fire service. In Maryland, there’s 25,000 volunteer firefighters that don’t get paid to go out and protect property.”

Anyone doubting the long-term benefits of a fire sprinkler ordinance need only look to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Since it went into effect in 1986, the ordinance has had a hand in saving lives and property; the city's fire losses, for example, are a third less than the national average. As for the myth that "fire sprinkler requirements will place the fire service out of business," the number of Scottsdale's fire stations and firefighters has increased since the ordinance took effect 30 years ago.

In this new video by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, Jim Ford, fire marshal for the Scottsdale Fire Department, discusses how his town's ordinance has significantly decreased the city's fire losses without diminishing the necessity of the fire service. (Read this report from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition showcasing other benefits of this ordinance.) He also gives advice to other safety advocates looking to mirror Scottsdale's success.

Share this video by:

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A report released this month by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states a lack of fire sprinklers contributed to a high-profile residential fire in Boston that killed Lieutenant Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, while injuring 13 others nearly two years ago.

Welders installing railings on a nearby building caused the blaze in Boston's picturesque Back Bay neighborhood. The welding company did not have the necessary permits for this job. According to the report, conditions inside the building quickly became untenable, trapping Walsh and Kennedy in the basement. Firefighters found Kennedy and immediately removed him. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Walsh was found in the basement, where he, too, was pronounced dead, according to the NIOSH report. 

The NIOSH report lists several factors contributing to the fire--including location of fire hydrants and the wind-driven nature of the fire--and also calls out the residence's lack of fire sprinklers. In its list of 15 recommendations, the report notes that "code-setting organizations and municipalities should consider requiring the use of sprinkler systems in residential structures." While the report touches upon retrofitting existing structures, it also underscores the benefits of fire sprinklers in any home.

"Fire development beyond the incipient stage presents one of the greatest risks firefighters are exposed to during fireground operations," states the report. "This risk exposure to firefighters can be dramatically reduced when fires are controlled or extinguished by automatic sprinklers.NFPA statistics show that most fires large enough to activate a sprinkler system are controlled by just one or two sprinklers. Sprinklers also reduces the exposure risk to firefighters during all phases of fireground operation and allows the safe egress of building occupants before the fire department arrives on scene. Finally, by controlling fire development, the risks associated with the potential for structural collapse and during overhaul operations are greatly reduced, if not eliminated."

If a lack of funding is preventing you from getting a crucial safety message out to the public, NFPA can help. But you must act quickly.

Here's your chance to secure up to $10,000 through NFPA's Bringing Safety Home Grant, which funds localized advocacy and educational efforts in support of home fire sprinklers. Why fire sprinklers? NFPA research confirms these devices can save lives in the place where people are dying most from fire.

Consider how some of the 2015 grant recipients used these funds, and create (or mimic) something similar in your region:

  • The Missouri Fire Sprinkler Coalition initiated a public campaign in support of sprinklers, utilizing social media, PSAs, and e-mail blasts
  • the Connecticut and Michigan Fire Sprinkler Coalitions launched local sprinkler summits, bringing parties either misinformed or uninformed about sprinklers to the same table
  • the South Carolina and Utah Fire Sprinkler Coalitions are wowing crowds with their new fire sprinkler demonstration trailers, made possible by the grant

NFPA is accepting applications through March 16, 2016. Please don't delay--apply today. (The application process is simple.) You have the power to solve North America's home fire problem.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c8220f7e970b-320wi.jpgAs part of a series of programs pertaining to fire sprinklers, the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition is co-hosting free training on home fire sprinklers. Attendees will receive continuing education units for their participation. The two sessions pertaining to fire sprinklers in one- and two-family dwellings take place on May 10 and 11 in Toms River and Mahwah, New Jersey.

 

Download this flyer for all registration details for the New Jersey trainings. Space is limited--sign up today.

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I was reminded today of the power of one voice.

 

Having already endured four decades of surgeries related to burns he sustained during a home fire in 1971, firefighter Phil Tammaro was back in the hospital this month. He acquired an infection on his left leg, which was significantly burned in the fire, and had to be admitted to a Boston-based hospital for recent treatment. This is the reality of a burn survivor, he said during our joint presentation to NFPA staff this week. While he doesn't let his burns define him, they are his grim reminder of the atrocities initiated by fire. Having Tammaro share his evolution from burn survivor to fire sprinkler advocate firsthand has a poignancy like none other.

Like the others profiled before him, Tammaro uses his voice as one of NFPA's Faces of Fire, a component of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative meant to humanize the home fire problem. I could have easily presented on this campaign to NFPA, but having Phil present brought the campaign to life. The audience witnessed graphic images of a two-year-old Tammaro wrapped in bandages. They heard about the necessary procedures--skin grafting being one of them--he had to endure. They gasped and sighed at how a young Tammaro mistakenly knocked over a gasoline canister--and the aftermath of when the gas found an ignition source.

 

Tammaro and the rest of our Faces of Fire can be your most effective tools in convincing your community, legislators, and code-making bodies that home fire sprinklers have the power to reduce these horror stories. We now have close to 30 people who have shared their story for this campaign. All of them come from different walks of life. All have diverse backgrounds. All share the opinion that home fire sprinklers were responsible for saving their lives or could have prevented horrific outcomes.

 

Peruse the list of profiles and videos we have created for this campaign. Get acquainted with these fine folks. Share their videos. If you would like them present at a local event, please let us know. Let's showcase the power one voice can have in promoting this important cause.

 

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Looking to give a simple yet stellar educational pitch for home fire sprinklers in your community but don't know where to start? NFPA's new mini lesson will leave audiences with a clearer picture on the role these devices play in saving lives.

 

Using a three-step process, the new lesson taps into practices once deemed safe (smoking on planes, hockey players on ice without helmets) and gives audiences a chance to ponder safety advances made since then. The lesson then hits home advances in fire safety, particularly the use of home fire sprinklers. The instructor can engage the audience with discussion questions on these devices and facts about their operation.

 

Download the free lesson plan

and spend 10 minutes instructing your community about the necessity of home fire sprinklers. 

Brad Carroll gave elected and building officials in Rock Springs, Wyoming, something to think about following an educational presentation on home fire sprinklers he gave them in January. The topic apparently struck such a chord with attendees, since Carroll was invited to take part in a Rock Springs City Council follow-up workshop in February.

 

The workshop discussed a consideration to update the city's building code and adopt a model building code requirement to sprinkler new, one- and two-family homes. "I was honored to be asked to be a part of the process,' Carroll, a member of the Wyoming Fire Sprinkler Coalition and fire prevention specialist at the Wyoming State Fire Marshal's Office, told NFPA.

 

Developers and contractors at the summit also addressed their concerns, mainly centered on sprinkler installation costs. Carroll and other sprinkler supporters responded to these and other misconceptions. Water damage, he noted at the workshop, is

more prevalent during a fire department's response to a home fire than when a fire sprinkler activates.

Caroll also countered the "Hollywood myth" that home fire sprinklers all activate at once.

Also on board for home fire sprinklers was Rock Springs Fire Chief Jim Wamsley, who said at the meeting that

these devices would not reduce the necessity of firefighters.

 

Following the workshop, Rock Springs Mayor Carl Demshar said he'd like more information before formulating an opinion on fire sprinklers.

 

Need help talking sprinklers in your own state or region? Download these free tools from the Fire Sprinkler Initiative (under "Talking Home Fire Sprinklers") to help make a convincing pitch to the people in your town.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c81ce715970b-320wi.jpgJed Boucher's foray into safety advocacy followed one of the most horrific moments of his life. The unfortunate outcome of a fire in his home last year was the loss of the structure and the deaths of his mother and brother. "Ten more seconds in there, and I'd have been killed," Boucher told a Massachusetts publication following the fire late last year.

Smoking materials were the culprit, a reality that Boucher's mom, Brigette, warned of many times before. "My mother was always on us for smoking," Boucher's sister, Denise, said in the story. During the fire, screams to Brigette--lovingly referred to as "Oma" (German for grandmother)--went unanswered. Nick Boucher, Jed's son, attempted to save Oma by breaking her bedroom window but was sidelined by the intense smoke. He also tried to reenter the burning home, but a neighbor stopped him. Firefighters spent an hour extinguishing the fire. 

"Something you think could never happen to your family happened to mine," said Jed in the story. "It was the most horrific nightmare you can imagine."

Now on a personal campaign to prevent others from experiencing this horror, the family is touting the importance of smoke alarms, escape planning, and fire sprinklers. Calling the Boucher tragedy "avoidable" in the story, former Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan also supports sprinklers in new homes. Coan is also a member of the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition. "We need to require sprinklers [in new homes] today to change the face of fire tomorrow, so we're not going to see what I've seen over the last 20 years," he told NFPA in 2014. "The fire marshal at that time isn't going to speak to the press about a tragedy. He or she will talk about how nobody died because of sprinklers."

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c81c6c90970b-320wi.jpgIn the latest edition of our Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, read about a new push from some of Maryland’s biggest names in fire safety (and a few new ones) to fight anti-sprinkler legislation there. There are also stories on:

    • FEMA announcing that it will sprinkler its temporary housing for disaster survivors
    • NFPA once again offering sprinkler advocates the chance to secure up to $10,000
    • why the fire service should unify its support for home fire sprinklers

 

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