When looking for proof of the life-saving benefits of ordinances for home fire sprinklers, people point to Prince George's County. Requiring sprinklers in all of its new homes since 1992, the county hasn't had a single fire death in their sprinklered homes, according to a report completed in cooperation with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.
That's not to say all of the county's fire problems are solved. Marc Bashoor, Prince George's fire chief, wrote in a recent commentary that appeared on Firehouse.com that while community risk reduction efforts have significantly decreased fire fatalities over the past 30 years, the county's "major fire problem continues to be small- to medium-size single-family homes and medium-size garden-style, multi-family residential properties." Since 1992, there have been more than 7,000 residential fires and 230 fire fatalities (all in unsprinklered homes). Moreover, says Bashoor, there was a "close call" in a sprinkered home that could have been avoided.
Last year, the fire department responded to a home fire. The basement had been finished, but in a way that the drywall and panel ceilings were installed below the sprinklers, states Bashoor. Since the sprinklers weren't able to quickly activate, the fire trapped a 61-year-old occupant in the basement. Fortunately, "the suspended ceiling failed fairly quickly during the fire event, which allowed enough head to activate the sprinklers," states Bashoor.
"New construction and permitting must be closely tied to ensure that proper fire protection measures are in place," Bashoor adds. "It is imperative that departments and applicable inspectors are fully aware of the relationship among construction, inspection, and the functionality of fire sprinklers."
Despite the near miss, the sprinklers had activated and saved the resident's life. As more of Prince George's housing stock includes sprinklers, these sprinkler saves will only continue to increase.
Learn about the additional benefits of home fire sprinkler ordinances by downloading these free reports.