It's hard to compete with doom-and-gloom news broadcasts or headlines. Rarely are "today's top stories" anything all that feel-good. For instance, when was the last time you watched TV news anchors lead with a story about a mother reuniting with her long-lost son? You're more likely to see something involving people in peril, (this month particularly) one presidential candidate attacking another, or anything involving compelling--and destructive--video footage, such as fire.
Like it or not, that's the reality of the news world. How, then, do we promote the importance of a fire sprinkler activation--something that (to the device's credit) typically does not produce compelling video footage, death, or injury? Is there a way to spice up an activation so that it gets on the media's radar?
Here are some tips, including a couple examples of "sprinkler saves" done right. Pay attention to the compelling quotes used by the advocates and the focus taken by the media when underscoring these stories:
"Sprinkler system likely prevented major damage in McKinney home"
The McKinney, Texas, Fire Department should be commended for alerting the media to this activation, but also mentioning what a disastrous situation it might have been had sprinklers not been installed. "This successful sprinkler save demonstrates the effectiveness of automatic fire sprinklers," said Deputy Fire Marshal Andrew Barr. "Had a sprinkler not been present, the outcome may have been very different."
He also provided some key facts that are just as eye-opening as any fire. "In residences with sprinklers, 90 percent of fires are contained by the activation of just one sprinkler. In a building without sprinklers...the fire has likely grown to levels requiring the use of multiple lines of fire hose, flowing water at 125 gallons per minute." Highlighting these activations are also key around the time of high-profile fires that have occurred in your region, as a means of creating a "tale-of-two-home fires" comparison for the public.
"Sprinkler System Saves Lives"
When it comes to highlighting sprinkler saves, details can be crucial, since the media loves a good story. The Laramie County Fire District #1 in Wyoming recently detailed its response to a residential fire. When they arrived at the evacuated apartment, they noticed light smoke and only one sprinkler activated in the kitchen. An unattended pan of oil on the stove had caught fire and spread to nearby cabinets, but sprinklers completely extinguished the fire, limiting minor damage only to the kitchen. "Properly working smoke alarms and the quick action of the sprinkler limited damage to the residence and prevented injury to the occupant."
One other note: make sure you have props. The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition suggests having a sprinkler on hand to show reporters.
Download our sprinkler media guide for more tidbits.