David Peterson is deeply concerned about the effects of firefighter staffing shortages in Wisconsin, where he hails, and across North America. "As a retired fire chief, I can attest that I lost sleep stressed by constant worry about whether enough responders would arrive at the station to respond when calls for help came," Peterson stated in a commentary that appeared in the GazetteExtra. "As possible incentives, I looked into retirement accounts and reductions of property taxes for people who enlisted. It was still difficult to appeal to anyone."
His solution to this problem is threefold: increasing fire education, bolstering emergency response capabilities, and enacting more ordinances requiring the use of home fire sprinklers. (He joins the Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition in supporting fire sprinklers in new homes.) In his commentary, Peterson cites three success stories--Addison, Texas; Prince George's County, Maryland; and Scottsdale, Arizona--that have all reaped the benefits of enacting such an ordinance.
"Remember, the average fire response time is from eight to 10 minutes after calling 911," he stated. "In that time, a sprinkler will have extinguished the fire. It will have saved thousands of dollars in loss. Most important, it will have saved lives.
"While we still need responders, we also need public education about preventing fires. We would do well to enact ordinances that require automatic fire sprinklers in all buildings."
Watch and share NFPA's new video of Scottsdale Fire Marshal Jim Ford detailing how the sprinkler ordinance in his town has not diminished the need for the fire service: