Last year, New York's state fire administrator initiated meetings with the state's major fire service organizations to identify and address issues plaguing this industry. The nature of today's home fires bubbled to the top of this list.
A recent article highlighting this dilemma underscores a few key points:
- today's average home size is larger than homes built 50 years ago
- the fire load inside homes have increased
- lightweight assemblies (popularly called "lightweight construction") fails faster under fire than traditional lumber
"The combination of these changes...leads to faster fire propagation, shorter time to flashover, shorter escape times, and shorter time to structural collapse," writes Douglas Gordner, a fire protection specialist, and State Fire Administrator Bryant Stevens in an article that appeared in a newsletter for the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs. This group is a member of the New York Fire Sprinkler Initiative, aimed at increasing the use of home fire sprinklers in hew homes. "This illustrates the game has changed...and we, as firefighters and fire officers need to adjust the game plan to accommodate these facts."
While the authors offer tips the fire service can take to protect itself, they also note the "expanded use of fire sprinklers and other direct protection systems will definitely impact fire spread and fire growth."
Are you a member of the fire service? Want to use your voice to exact change in your community and help save the lives of your comrades and citizens? Become an advocate for home fire sprinklers. Learn how by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative website. We could always use another advocate for the cause.