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2016

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Photo courtesy of and copyright (Jack Moreh), Free Range Stock, www.freerangestock.com

 

America's 50th state has the same pushback for sprinkler requirements experienced by its mainland counterparts.

 

Using its clout in the Hawaii State Legislature, the Building Industry Association of Hawaii championed for a bill (Act 83) that would prohibit counties from enacting sprinkler requirements for new and existing one- and two-family homes. The bill became law in 2012, and is scheduled to sunset like the Hawaiian sun next year.

 

The Hawaii State Fire Council (SFC), which is the state's equivalent to a state fire marshal's office, has attempted to repeal this act over the years and promote fire sprinklers on a voluntary basis. "The SFC has supported legislation to provide a tax credit to homeowners who voluntarily install sprinklers and require contractors to provide a cost estimate ... to new homebuyers," Lloyd Rogers, administrative specialist with the Hawaii State Fire Council/Honolulu Fire Department, wrote in an article that recently appeared in Sprinkler Age. "Those proposals have not been passed."


Sprinkler opponents there continue rallying against sprinklers. A website and flyer with the title "Fire Sprinklers: Making Homes Less Affordable for Everyone," use the same myths that NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative has countered time and time again. Rogers notes that the SFC and other safety advocates stand ready to continually combat these myths.

 

"Rarely, if ever, are safety regulations done voluntarily, and sprinklers are no different," states Rogers. "Builders, designers, and regulators must provide homes that are safe, sustainable, and use best practices. Residential fire sprinklers provide a new value and security that other homes do not. Our homes must be a place not only where we feel safe, but are safe."

 

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Read the full article in Sprinkler Age, the magazine of the American Fire Sprinkler Association.

California Fire Sprinkler Coalition.jpgFollowing a series of fires that have left hundreds homeless, San Francisco's officials plan to research the increased use of fire sprinklers.

 

Recent fires in the Mission District have prompted this investigation; according to a recent news report, several fires over a two-year period lacked working smoke alarms, sprinklers, or both. "We are committed to making sprinklers happen, not just in the Mission District but throughout the city," San Francisco Supervisor David Campo told a local radio station.

 

Campo also pointed to a recent fire in another neighborhood where sprinklers inside a hotel saved the building. The fire, however, went on to damage six buildings and displace close to 60 people, states the news report.

 

As one of two states that require sprinklers in new homes, California has embraced this technology's life-saving power. The benefits have been bountiful; according to a report by the National Fire Sprinkler Association, more than 130,000 single-family homes and more than 150,000 multi-family homes have been built in California between 2011 (when the statewide, sprinkler ordinance took effect) and 2014. Moreover, The New York Times has reported that a "housing boom" has occurred there--proving fire sprinkler ordinances do not negatively impact a region's housing market.

 

For more information on how California continues to champion for home fire sprinklers, visit the California Fire Sprinkler Coalition webpage.

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Mike and Judy Hall (left) were the winners of a free home fire sprinkler installation

 

A family's newly sprinklered home is the outcome of a unique partnership between the fire service, a sprinkler installer, and a homebuilder.

 

The installation was free of charge for the Hall family, who had entered a free-sprinkler-giveaway contest earlier this year. Last month, the family opened up their home to the media so the public could get a closer look at fire sprinklers. "We live in a county which lengthens our emergency response time in the event of a fire,"  contest winner Judy Hall said earlier this year. "Sprinklers will give us peace of mind knowing we will be able to evacuate safely."


Oregon's Jackson County Fire District 3 teamed up with the Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Claudio Alvarez Construction, and Pacific Fire Protection for the contest, which was launched last year. The contest's partial aim is to educate the public on this life-saving technology and dispel myths on operation.

 

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Interested in initiating a similar contest in your state or region? Contact your state's fire sprinkler coalition or NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative for support.

Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition application.pngThe Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition has developed a mobile app to educate the public and elected officials on home fire sprinklers. And we’d like your feedback.

 

First, please download the app via the Google Android Play Store.

 

While in its infancy stage, the app is a resource for fire sprinkler information for all sprinkler advocates. You’ll find:

 

Resources specific to Illinois advocates include:

  • Illinois Fire Investigation Act
  • Upcoming events
  • High-rise fire sprinkler PSA


We would like your feedback on the app in its current form. It currently serves as a resource for fire sprinkler information, but we also envision it answering sprinkler-related questions and making it easier to educate the public about fire sprinklers. We foresee all state sprinkler coalitions using the app for their efforts.

Send us your wish list of needs and wants for the app. For example, what feature would be useful in the field when educating a resident or elected official? What feature is needed to help explain home fire sprinklers to a builder? Currently, the app is only available in the Google Android Play Store. Search “Illinois Coalition.” Please send us your feedback via this blog. Look for the link above to login or to register for free to join NFPA’s Xchange.

 

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.

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Filling those comfortable, cushy sofas in your home is a material being likened to foam gasoline.

 

A news report is shedding light on why new, synthetic furniture in many of today's homes are leading to fast-burning fires. "They're using petroleum to manufacture the [furniture's] foam," Opelika, Alabama, Fire Department Chief Byron Prather told a local ABC affiliate. "When it burns, it burns rapidly and gives off a black, soot smoke."

 

This type of synthetic material also melts, leading to the rapid spread of harmful smoke and gases throughout the home. "The majority of people in house fires die not from flame contact itself but from toxic fumes and gases," Prather says.

 

Research shows that older, legacy furnishings made of leather, wool, and cotton don't burn in the same manner. Studies by UL have confirmed that rooms filled with synthetic furniture that are set on fire reach dangerous temperatures quicker than similar rooms filled with legacy furnishings. In 2013, NFPA reported that fires involving these items accounted for the largest share of fire deaths of any first item ignited in U.S. homes.

 

In the news report, the Opelika Fire Department demonstrated these concerns by setting modern furniture on fire and watching it burn. To prevent tragic outcomes from these fires, the department stressed the importance of smoke alarms in homes and escape planning. At the end of the segment, the newscasters also suggested the installation of home fire sprinklers, citing NFPA's research on sprinkler effectiveness.

 

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Learn about all of the hazards of the modern home by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

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A carelessly discarded cigarette started a fire in a Reno, Nevada, residence, but the fire was quickly contained to only the living room by fire sprinklers.

 

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the two tenants living in the apartment were sleeping at the time of fire but escaped without any injuries. Though fourteen other people in the apartment complex were temporarily relocated with help from the American Red Cross, no injuries were reported.

 

According to NFPA's "Home Structure Fires" report, smoking is the leading cause of home fire fatalities. NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative notes that the risk of dying in home fires decreases by 80 percent when fire sprinklers are present.

 

If you're a smoker, please adhere to these NFPA safety tips. If in the market for a new home, ask for fire sprinklers.

 

This post was written by Michal Holland, intern for NFPA's Public Affairs Division.

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Looking for solid research on why home fire sprinklers are a win for your community?

 

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative and its partners have produced close to a dozen research reports underscoring everything you need to know about fire sprinkler benefits. For instance, you'll learn about:

 

  • How fire sprinklers impact firefighter injuries (Hint: an analysis showed a 65 percent reduction in firefighter injuries at sprinklered homes)
  • the incentives and financial tradeoffs for implementing a sprinkler ordinance in your community
  • the positive impact sprinkler ordinances have on housing construction and pricing

 

...and much more.

 

Download these and other reports today, and share this research with your community's decision makers.

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Personal stories have a power to them. Just ask any one of NFPA's Faces of Fire, who paint an emotional portrait of loss and survival in the hopes of making fire sprinklers in all new homes a reality. Almost as important as the stories they're telling is how they're telling it.

 

Sitting in my inbox this morning was an email notification about a new blog post from media professional Brad Phillips. Working closely with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, Phillips has helped safety advocates spread messages on burn injury and prevention, including the importance of home fire sprinklers. The blog post, titled "Two Common Storytelling Mistakes and How to Fix Them," notes the downfalls of (1) failing to include emotion and detail in your story and (2) not connecting your story to the bigger point you're trying to make.


Phillips uses the following video as an example of storytelling done right. Please keep this approach and Phillips' tips in mind as you share your own story. What can you share with the public and your peers that personalizes your pitch for home fire sprinklers? How can you do so in a way that mimics the effectiveness of this firefighter, who captures the emotion and detail of his experience and leads to a bigger point?

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A newspaper editor is backing requirements for home fire sprinklers after seeing fire's devastation firsthand.

 

Invited to a recent home fire demonstration by her local fire service, Lori Copler with the McLeod County Chronicle watched as the unsprinklered structure was "virtually destroyed" within six minutes, she noted in a recent editorial. In the sprinklered room, the fire was contained to a small section of the mattress.

 

"People, particularly in this area, have a strong aversion to government mandates," Copler stated in her recent editorial. "And with good reason — many times they ended up costing us more than the benefits they provide.

 

"But sometimes, we don’t mind so much when the government steps into our lives, especially if it involves protecting our lives and those of our loved ones."

 

Following a lawsuit by Minnesota homebuilders, a requirement to sprinkler new Minnesota homes of a certain size was overturned last year. But these requirements, notes Copler, have life-saving abilities. She points to a recent home fire in Minnesota involving a man confined to a wheelchair. Fire sprinklers extinguished the fire before the fire department arrived.

 

While arguing that sprinkler installation might not be cost-effective (NFPA research underscores sprinkler affordability in new homes), Copler also notes safety should trump affordability concerns.


"We would like legislators to consider residential sprinkling requirements for new homes," she states. "We also want everyone to be safe. In the long run, that’s what really matters."

 

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Make your own compelling case for sprinklers by using the information in this eye-catching infographic produced by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

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Tim Travers (right) of NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative presents the Maryland State Firemen’s Association a $10,000 Bringing Safety Home Grant to help support activities that showcase the importance of home fire sprinklers in Maryland. Accepting the award on behalf of the association is Richard Smith (left) and Stephan Cox.

 

It has been a noteworthy summer for Maryland.

 

Following a victorious defeat of an anti-sprinkler bill earlier this year, fire service officials have banded together to form the Maryland Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Similar to the nearly 30 other coalitions formed in the U.S., Maryland's coalition localizes advocacy efforts in support of home fire sprinklers. Since Maryland has a statewide, sprinkler requirement for townhomes and one- and two-family homes, maintaining this requirement is another coalition goal.

 

Another bit of good news for MarMaryland Fire Sprinkler Coalition.jpgyland residents: the Dorchester County Council recently approved a tax credit for home fire sprinkler installation. According to the Dorchester Star, up to a $5,000 credit against the home's property taxes will be applied to new homes constructed between now and June 30, 2019. The Dorchester Banner also reports that the council's decision followed a live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration by Maryland's safety advocates earlier this year.

 

Another sprinkler demonstration took place last month at the Maryland State Firemen's Association (MSFA) Convention and Conference in Ocean City. At the event, MSFA also received a $10,000 grant check from NFPA via it's Fire Sprinkler Initiative's Bringing Safety Home Grant. Awarded to 15 recipients this year, the grant assists state sprinkler coalitions and other safety advocates in supporting local activities that showcase home fire sprinklers.

Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition.jpgIt's time to flex those creative muscles in support of home safety.

 

The Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition needs your help in crafting a program or media campaign supporting home fire sprinklers. The winner's idea will become the official campaign for the coalition and will receive statewide recognition for their creativity. The winner also receives prizes worth more than $1,000. The campaign:

 

 

Deadline for submissions is August 8. For complete rules and to download an entry form, visit the Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition's webpage.

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A coroner has recommended the increased use of home fire sprinklers following two home fires that killed seven people.

 

One of the fires occurred in April 2012 and claimed the lives of three Ontario teens. A year later, another Ontario home fire killed two teens and their parents, according to a story by CBC News. Their deaths prompted an inquest by Ontario's Office of the Chief Coroner, which examined "everything from the fire alarms in the home to the training of the 911 operators who were alerted about the fires," states the story.

 

Regarding the fire claiming the three teens, firefighters responded well within times set by established standards. A news release highlighting evidence obtained during the inquest notes that "only three minutes and 22 seconds elapsed between the time the fire stations were notified and the time the first truck arrived on scene." Once they arrived, they were subjected to high heat and heavy smoke. The possibility of a flashover was imminent.

 

In May, the coroner's office issued 33 recommendations aimed at preventing similar tragedies. Number 27 states "to consult with stakeholders, research and promote the installation of sprinklers as a component of fire and life safety in all newly constructed residential homes with the appropriate amendment under the Ontario Building Code."

 

"It deeply disturbs me that these three young people were taken from their loved ones in this tragic fire, despite the extraordinary efforts of all first responders on the scene that day," Fire Chief Dave Speed with the Whitby, Ontario, Fire and Emergency Services stated in a news release. "Residential sprinklers would have made all the difference in this fire. It is likely that only one sprinkler would have activated and would have controlled the fire until we arrived to extinguish it. I am pleased that the jury has recommended sprinklers in new construction be researched and promoted with a view to amending the Ontario Building Code."

 

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Learn how Ontario safety officials are working toward incorporating fire sprinklers into new homes by reading this blog post about Canada's first home fire sprinkler summit.

Delaware FSI.jpgThe following was written by Paul Eichler, chair of the Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition:

 

I feel obligated to alert everyone of two, devastating fires that recently occurred in Delaware. On June 12, a fire destroyed three homes and damaged several others in the Meadows at Chestnut Ridge neighborhood outside of Magnolia. A young man suffered critical injuries due to a fire that destroyed his home in the Paris Villa neighborhood on June 23.

 

The Chestnut Ridge fire alone brought in emergency responders from eight volunteer fire companies, the Kent County Emergency Medical Services Department, the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Red Cross.

 

With these tragedies in mind, I encourage families considering the construction of a new home in Delaware and elsewhere to build with home fire sprinklers. This technology provides continuous protection for families to quickly escape a fire before responders arrive. Sprinklers help to contain the fire, protect your property, and minimize your losses. Since sprinklers use less water than fire hoses, you might be able to stay in your own soon after the fire is extinguished by sprinklers.

 

Sprinkler costs have come down tremendously in the last few years, with an average cost now at $1.35 per square foot of livable space. We owe a tremendous amount of thanks to our neighbors in Maryland for bringing these costs down due to their sprinkler requirement for all homes.

 

Need more information? Please visit the Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition website and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site to read more about the benefits of home fire sprinklers. Also, please feel free to contact me.

 

These fires were terrible tragedies. I hope that the families are able to get their lives back to normal as soon as possible. Building with sprinklers will help to make sure lives and property are well protected.

 

Act-Now-small.jpgAre you a safety advocate with the need to get something off your chest? Send your commentary to NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, and we can showcase it to a national audience.

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In less than six hours, Barrie Fire and Emergency Services and other key players in Ontario built a new home--only to intentionally set it on fire.

 

The new structure, built with support from the Simcoe County Home Builders' Association and aid from the local Habitat for Humanity, serves as a "training home" used by local firefighters. According to an online story of the build, "the house represents the typical type of structure firefighters will encounter...[and adds] to the realism of fighting fires in a training environment." Firefighters will be able to practice survival training, radio communications, and coordinated fire attacks in the home. The structure also has a sliding, interior wall used to modify the home's layout, states the story.


Another component of the training home is fire sprinklers. Firefighters will witness firsthand how sprinklers aid their job by keeping fires under control or (in many cases) extinguishing fires before their arrival. The sprinklers inside the home may also serve as a public education endeavor by local fire departments.

 

"[Sprinklers] are good education for our staff, on how they're used and how they can control a fire," Tony Weir, chief training officer for Barrie Fire and Emergency Service, told NFPA. "Second, I thought this would be a good tool for our fire prevention staff. They can see a sprinkler in use, they can create some public service announcements on sprinklers in the home. And it’s a training tool we can use for pump operators...and incident command training."

 

Check out the photos from the event (used with permission by Barrie Fire and Emergency Services):

 

 

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Sparky joined a team of volunteers that aided the construction of the new fire training home

 

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A necessity in all new homes, fire sprinklers were proudly displayed

 

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Want to know why sprinklers are a must in all new homes (not just fire training homes)? Visit our newly revamped page underscoring the fire concerns of modern homes.

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(From left: NFPA Regional Director Randy Safer; Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition Chairs Wendy Niles and Kingman Schuldt; and NFPA Regional Sprinkler Specialist Tim Travers)

 

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative awarded the newly formed Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition $10,000 aimed at furthering state education on home fire sprinklers. The funding is part of the initiative's Bringing Safety Home Grant, awarded to 15 recipients this year to further education and advocacy efforts that support home fire sprinklers.

 

Local  safety advocates point to fire sprinklers as the technology that can directly impact the state’s home fire problem. Between 2005 and 2014, there were approximately 230,000 home fires in Florida that resulted in $2.5 billion in property damage. Home fires were also responsible for more than 70 percent of all civilian fire deaths in Florida during this period. (National statistics on home fires are just as dire.)

 

“These figures prove that Florida’s home fires have devastating consequences,” says Wendy Niles, fire marshal for the Lake Mary Fire Department and co-chair of the Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition. “The solution to this problem exists. The coalition will educate the public on the necessity of fire sprinklers in new homes and combat the many myths surrounding sprinkler performance. For instance, if a fire occurs in a sprinklered home, only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate. All of them do not go off at once.”

 

The Florida coalition received its grant check on behalf of NFPA and announced its official formation at the recent Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

 

The coalition now joins nearly 30 other state coalitions championing for increased use and education of fire sprinklers in new homes. Join one of these coalitions today, or reach out to NFPA about starting one in your state. Here's more information on this grassroots movement sweeping North America:

 

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