Local, educational summits initiated by a number of state sprinkler coalitions have been placing a regional spin on the home fire problem. Local fire service members, building officials, and even homebuilders are brought to the same table to learn about home fire losses in their state or region and the life-saving impact of fire sprinklers.
Hosted by the Missouri Fire Sprinkler Coalition, the most recent sprinkler summit is an example of how parties typically on competing sides of the sprinkler debate can come together for the good of the citizens they serve despite legislative roadblocks. Missouri law, for example, currently prohibits the adoption of a sprinkler requirement or the option to have local communities adopt sprinkler requirements. "Because politics got involved, this controversy got involved, and you had one group saying no and the other group saying yes," Cara Erwin, public information officer for the Springfield Fire Department and coalition member, told a local ABC affiliate. "When in reality, what we needed to do is come together, put all that aside and say what we're focused on here is not a mandate but the option to install sprinklers. If we can give people that option with better information and better education, then we feel more people would take that option.Offering residents this protection in the homes he builds is Randy Propst, owner of Loran Construction in Missouri. He joined a half-dozen other presenters at the summit. "In my case, to sprinkler homes was really more driven from a safety standpoint, not a selling standpoint," he told a local NBC news affiliate. "A lot of my homes are occupied by people with some form of disability. I wanted to make sure they had the safest home possible that I could give them."
Also on the summit's agenda was NFPA sprinkler expert Matt Klaus, who compared and contrasted NFPA's sprinkler standards. Presenters also discussed recent, high-profile fires in Missouri and highlighted the coalition's new educational campaign on home fire sprinklers. (Check out the free materials created as a result of this campaign.) Fire Marshal Jim Ford with the Scottsdale, Arizona, Fire Department also presented on the successes of a sprinkler requirement in his town.
"We're hoping home fire sprinklers become like smoke alarms," says Erwin. "If you don't have one, people immediately get them because they really are the safest item you can have in your home."
Looking to host a similar summit in your region? NFPA can provide some guidance. Please contact us for assistance.