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A fire department is using a grandfather's heartbreaking story to convince homebuilders they have the power to help reduce death and injury from home fires. 


The Harrods Creek Fire Protection District is promoting an NFPA video featuring Irv Bailey, one of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative's Faces of Fire who lost two grandchildren during a Christmas morning fire. The video and the district's push for sprinklering its new homes recently got the media's attention. "I do believe had that house been sprinklered, they would have had a chance to get out," Steve Hanson, the district's assistant chief and fire marshal, told a local news station. 


Even though fire sprinklers aren't required in one- and two-family homes in Kentucky, the local fire service and public officials hope Bailey's story can alter opponent's opinions on this technology. "I don't know how you could ever watch Irv Bailey's [video] and be building a house and not put sprinklers in there," Thomas Eifler, mayor of Indian Hills, told the news station. 


Hear Irv's story, and use our Faces of Fire subjects to help humanize your region's home fire problem in a way that grabs the media's attention.


Following a deadly start to 2017, two elected officials have taken action to reduce the tragedies triggered by home fires. 


Massachusetts State Representative Ruth Balser, a longtime fire sprinkler advocate, and Senator Ken Donnelly recently introduced a bill that would give local towns the option to fire sprinkler its new, one- and two-family homes. The Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition supports the bill. 


The bill follows the deaths of at least four people from Massachusetts who have died from residential fires in January alone, according to a news story on More than 50 people died from fire in the state last year. Half that number, according to State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey is "far too many," states the story.


"We can drive the number of fire deaths even lower by building more homes with fire sprinklers which give everyone--children, seniors, and adults--more time to escape to safety," Ostroskey says in the article. "Home fire sprinklers...will yield dramatic results over time, eventually changing the future of fire, just as smoke alarms did in our lifetime."


Living in Massachusetts, or know people that do? Take action today. Please contact or have them contact their Massachusetts representatives and senators and ask them to co-sign the bill. Reference "House Docket # 2141: Residential Sprinklers-Local Option: An Act Relative to Enhanced Fire Protection in One- and Two-Family Dwellings." Please use this database to find the email and phone numbers of your elected officials.


In her final installment, blogger Cindy Rutter discusses how volunteering and promoting home fire sprinklers gave her a sense of purpose following a home fire that burned 85 percent of her body:


Working as a burn unit nurse, I took pride in helping people recover. I was proud of my accomplishments, but felt I could be doing more to eliminate the pain associated with burns. I eventually found a new sense of purpose by volunteering with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.


I got involved on many levels, from planning their annual World Burn Congress to developing their Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) Program. I also had a hand in developing Phoenix’s advocacy program for home fire sprinklers. If one person could be saved from death or injury from a home fire—something I had endured—I needed to be involved in that effort.


In 2003, I bought a sprinklered home in California. I have felt safer in that home than any other I’ve lived in. I wish every homeowner were given information on how inexpensive sprinklers are if installed during a home’s construction. This technology pales in comparison to the financial consequences of being in a burn unit or the lifelong impact of a burn injury. I wanted to tell all homebuilders, contractors, and others that fire sprinklers could have prevented my injuries and others from living a life of pain and turmoil from home fire. Through support from the Phoenix Society, I eventually took my story to legislators and congressional members. They needed to know that nobody should go through what I went through.


Sadly, though, people are still enduring these injuries. I’ve been blessed to volunteer at burn camps for more than 25 years. I have facilitated adult burn retreats and youth summits. Recently I began facilitating a burn survivor family camp through the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. I have spoken annually at national and international burn conferences. My prevention message is always in full force.


I have fulfilled a lifelong dream of being a nurse. My career has shifted a bit; I now am working as a therapist intern and now tend to a person’s psychological needs. Volunteering countless hours, however, has paid in ways money can’t touch.

Every time I attend a burn community event and hear how many individuals are burned from home fires, I still cringe. Fire sprinklers are the solution to this problem. We as a community have to band together to have our voices heard at every venue possible. Let’s all stand together and demand change.


I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to share my journey with you.

Between 2005 and 2015 in Rhode Island, there were approximately 7,200 home fires responsible for a series of deaths and injuries. Safety advocates there have taken steps to end these tragedies.


First, they recently formed the Rhode Island Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Second, the coalition is offering a free class on home fire sprinklers, a technology proven to significantly reduce the risk of dying in home fires. The class will cover provisions in NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes. Attendees will learn the truth about fire sprinkler operation, including how to review and inspect multipurpose and standalone sprinklers. Continuing education units will be offered.


Where: East Greenwich Veterans Firemen's Association Hall, 80 Queen St, East Greenwich, RI
When: Tuesday, February 21, registration 8:00 a.m., class 9 a.m.–noon


The course if free, but space is limited. Registration is required. To RSVP, contact David LaFond, 413-244-7653.

Outraged by quotes appearing in a local Colorado paper downplaying the importance of home fire sprinklers, an advocate fired back. 


"'Sprinkler systems really do not save lives.' Really? The NFPA and other reliable and respected sources, readily searchable on the Internet, disagree," states Gary Dick, a resident of Ridgway, Colorado, whose letter appeared in the Ouray County Plaindealer. The resident cites NFPA's "U.S. Experience With Sprinklers" report, which underscores just how significantly this technology reduces the risk of dying and property damage from fire. A fire sprinkler "inherently has a response time that no fire department can match," Dick states.

While also underscoring NFPA's studies on installation cost, Dick also did his own investigating. Prior to writing his letter, he confirmed with his local insurance agency that they offer a 10 percent discount on home fire sprinklers. "Aside from saving lives and making residential fires safer for firefighters, some of the [installation] cost will be offset by premium reductions," he states. 


Don't be afraid to call out any myths on fire sprinklers you might hear or see in your community. Use these 10 tips for creating compelling letters to the editor and op-eds sure to get the media's attention. You can help set the record straight on home fire sprinklers.  

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team was recently introduced to Joe Thomas, a Missouri-based photographer who installed fire sprinklers in his new home. We spoke with him about his decision, installation costs, and what it has been like living with this technology. 


NFPA: What led to your decision to fire sprinkler your home?

When I was in my early 20s, I experienced a house fire. My family called me. I was at my friend's house at the time. As my family tells it, my sister woke up and alerted my dad. He went to the second story and came down in a panic. "The house is on fire. Get out!" My sister and he left the house. My mom was inside the house collecting photos off the walls, placing them outside and going back into the home. The fire department finally gave her a lecture: go back inside, and you'll go to jail. They were all standing outside in their nightgowns outside my neighbor's house watching the house burn. That's when I arrived. It was something else to see my dad, a Vietnam vet, shaking and crying from the event. 


How did you react to what you were seeing? 
I wasn't really in shock because the house was still standing [after the fire]. The fire was mainly contained to the second story, but there was extensive water damage throughout. The fire just wasn't that day. It lasted. It wasn't just that day or first week as we went through stuff and itemized them for insurance. It was six months down the road and we realized we don't have Christmas ornaments anymore. That was so hard for my mother because all of the ornaments that my siblings made over the years were special to her and were now gone. The fire is something you carry with you. 


Insurance eventually put us into a rental. That was crazy because there were no linens, no couch, no pots and pans, nothing. It was a scramble to find a new house to live in. We were there for two months before my parents found a house within their price range. 


Five years ago, when you moved to Rogersville, Missouri, with your wife and two kids, you decided to fire sprinkler your new home. How did you hear about this technology?

I became an EMT and was around fire service guys all the time. I’m reading their paraphernalia and literature [that included information on home fire sprinklers]. Also, at a home show in Kansas City, there was a company there [promoting fire sprinklers]. Moving here, we decided to look into them. 


What solidified your decision to install fire sprinklers?

This is the house we’re going to raise our children in. Talking with the designer of the home, he said they’ll be using structurally engineered floor joists. At the time, I said, we need fire sprinklers. I don't think people realize how quickly new homes burn. My wife questioned the installation. We’re only five miles from our nearest fire station. However, if that crew is out on a call, they have to bring in somebody else, someone farther away. She eventually agreed. 


Prior to making this decision, did you have any concerns? 

We felt [installation] was going to be expensive. Talking with our contractor, he didn’t know a lot about them, and he builds custom homes. He then suggested we go meet with the installer and talk to them about it. When we saw the price tag, we said that's not really expensive at all. [The installation cost at Thomas' 4,500-square-foot home was approximately $5,000, or just over $1 per sprinklered square foot.] No matter what your budget is for your home, an extra $5,000 is really not that expensive.


Do guests notice the fire sprinklers, or do you point them out to people? 
I do point them out because I’m an advocate for them. They'll ask me, "What are the white dots on the ceiling?" People are very curious about it. Others don't even notice them. They blend in so well with the ceiling that you can't tell the sprinklers are there, unless you’re looking at it.

Has it given you more peace of mind living in a sprinklered home? 
Homeowners have home security systems. You worry about your home, you worry about your contents, and you worry about your family. This is one less thing for you to have to worry about. This is just a no-brainer. 


Interview conducted and edited by Fred Durso, Jr., communications manager for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative. Please contact NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team if considering fire sprinklering your new home.

Countryside Fire Prevention District in Illinois has supported fire and life safety education since its 1959 inception. Its mission has helped instilled this practice: “The District dedicates its activities to the preservation of human life and the conservation of property. To this end the District invests its personnel in the education of its public and the maintenance of a safe environment."


Furthering its mission, the district’s fire chief, Jeff Steingart, created a full-time public education coordinator position with the fire prevention bureau in 2007. Hired by the district in 2000 as a firefighter/paramedic, Tony Rodkey filled the position and eventually increased staffing in the bureau. Among its accomplishments, Countryside has assisted many state-level activities, which includes teaching and hosting a public fire and life safety instructor course. At a time when departments were cutting prevention and inspection programs, Rodkey bolstered staffing. He believes emergency response should not be our first line of defense. Rather, emergency response is the only option after prevention and education fail. Reducing risk via education to the community, according to him, is paramount in saving lives and protecting property. Home fire sprinklers are an important part of this model.


Countryside has made it a point to bolster education on this technology. The district has had a long campaign in the villages and unincorporated areas to adopt residential fire sprinkler ordinances in all buildings, specifically new homes, townhouses, and condominiums. The district itself passed a residential sprinkler requirement in 2004. To help promote this technology, Countryside has showcased fire sprinkler demonstrations and fire behavior lessons to five middle schools for the last 10 years. To date, 11,000 students have received fire safety education as part of their science curriculum since the creation of the public education coordinator.


Tony Rodkey plans to complement these teachings by visiting each of the five schools this September and showcasing a fire sprinkler trailer. This mobile tool provides information on fire sprinklers, the fire triangle, fire behavior, and smoke alarms to students. By bringing the concept of fire sprinklers to school-aged children, the fire service is able to demystify this technology at an early age while promoting its importance.


Countryside exemplifies safety at its best via a dedicated chief, board of trustees, firefighters, and a public educator who has accomplished the district’s mission for nearly 60 years.

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.


If searching for home fire sprinkler resources catered to children, visit the Sprinkler Smarts pages on the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition site. 

A recent article appearing on Bob Vila's website praises home fire sprinklers. Also highlighted in our latest issue of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter:


• why do water suppliers have beef with home fire sprinklers?
• NFPA and its partner offer first-of-its-kind training on fire sprinklers and NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems of One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes, to Canadian home inspectors
• the top fire sprinkler news stories of 2016


Take a quick second and start receiving our newsletter via email. It's monthly and filled with relevant news stories on our home fire problem and the solution to end these tragedies. Stay educated!

Thanks to a grant by NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative, the Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition recently staffed a booth during the three-day Home Building and Remodeling Show in Milwaukee. The event was part of the coalition’s 2017 work plan to attend at least three trade shows, introduce ourselves to other vendors, and educate attendees on home fire sprinkler benefits.

What did we learn? Consumers are more receptive to home fire sprinklers than I would have thought. The coalition created a simple, six-question survey for attendees. While all the responses have not been tabulated, I found some of them encouraging. Most people understood that the cost of home fire sprinklers is less than kitchen cupboards. However, they indicated home sprinklers would cost more than a good grade of flooring. Most said that they would consider home fire sprinklers as an option if the homebuilder would present them as such in their building plans. While there is no scientific correlation, the answers appear to coincide with a 2014 Harris poll conducted on behalf of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC). According to the poll: 


  • 74 percent of homeowners said they are more likely to buy a home with fire sprinklers than without them
  • 98 percent understand fire can happen to anyone, no matter the age of the home
  • 78 percent say fire sprinklers provide the ultimate fire protection in the home
  • 70 percent say a sprinklered home has more value than a home without sprinklers

The show also provided an opportunity to network with homebuilders. One builder we spoke with said he likes the idea of promoting home fire sprinklers along with other building methods and materials that promote a healthy lifestyle. His focus, he said, was giving the customer what they wanted, especially if it promoted health and safety.

The challenge for the fire service, however, is to create a strong consumer demand for home sprinklers based on accurate and factual information. This task can be accomplished if the fire service collectively starts using all of the free resources provided by HFSC and NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

We learned plenty from attending the homebuilder show, and our findings will help strengthen our advocacy efforts in Wisconsin. We’ll have more to report following a second homebuilder’s show later this month! If you're in town, please visit us at the Madison Area Builders Association Dream Home Showcase at the Alliant Energy Center, January 27-29. 


The following post was written by Gregg Cleveland, fire chief for the La Crosse, Wisconsin, Fire Department and chair of the Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition. 

I had the pleasure of knowing Jim Shannon during a few years of his 12-year tenure as president of NFPA. When it came to home fire sprinklers, you could not have asked for a more vocal advocate for the cause. 

NFPA is honoring similar advocates via its James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal, which was established to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the fire loss problem through advocacy. Nominations are being accepted until February 15, and the medal recipient will be honored at NFPA's Conference & Expo in Boston in June.


Nominations for individuals or groups will be judged on the following criteria:

  • the impact of the advocacy efforts on advancing NFPA's mission
  • the cost-effectiveness of the advocacy
  • the extent to which the advocacy is a collaborative effort beyond NFPA
  • the extent to which the potential recipient reflects Jim Shannon’s values


Have a stellar fire sprinkler advocate in mind who fits this criteria? Please nominate them today.

NFPA joins the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) in expressing its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those impacted by a recent home fire in Baltimore that killed six children. According to news reports, the mother and two boys remain in critical condition. 


In a statement firmly backed by NFPA, IAFC commended the emergency responders on the scene and reaffirmed its support for home fire sprinklers. (Both organizations are board members for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.) While the outcome of this recent tragedy cannot be altered, steps can be taken to save future generations from home fires. 


NFPA also supports IAFC's call for creating safer home environments for the public and fire service. Add your voice to the cause by joining or forming a fire sprinkler coalition or becoming a Built For Life Fire Department. Together, we have the power to change the course of fire. 


Here is the complete statement from IAFC: 


The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) expresses its deep condolences to the family and friends of six young children who reportedly perished during a residential house fire Thursday in Baltimore, Md. We commend the first responders who responded to the tragic scene. Most unfortunately, despite many advances in recent years in fire prevention and fire suppression, our nation still has a serious problem with home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires cause the majority of all civilian fire deaths, civilian injuries and property loss due to fire in the United States. The IAFC continues to call for every home to have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Further, the IAFC reiterates its policy that all new construction, including one- and two-family dwellings, should be built with residential fire sprinklers. The outcome of the Baltimore fire may not have been different as codes enacted today are not retroactive, but we must look toward tomorrow. The risk of loss of life due to residential house fire can be significantly reduced if we employ known, effective technologies such as residential sprinklers. We urge the public to consider the installation of residential fire sprinklers in their homes. We urge all fire service organizations, and organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders, to join us in making all homes as safe as possible for residents and firefighters.

In a special issue dedicated to home fire sprinklers, NFPA Journal tackles water quality concerns with this technology that seem to persist among entities overseeing the nation's water supply. Some water purveyors compare home fire sprinklers with commercial or industrial sprinklers or feel the technology will strain their resource, thereby assessing exorbitant fees. Others charge for a separate water line (which is not needed) or require larger, more expensive meters. 


“There are still a few myths out there about the impact of home sprinklers on municipal water supply, but that’s all they are—myths,” says Jeff Hudson, one of NFPA's regional sprinkler specialists, in the NFPA Journal article. 


Once presented with the facts, water purveyors tend to see fire sprinklers differently. Advocates interviewed for the article have educated water suppliers on fire sprinkler operation and the ability to conserve water when compared to fighting a home fire with a fire hose. Fire sprinkler ordinances have also negated water quality concerns.


“Like any utility, we had a pricing structure set up," said Stu Feinglas, a senior water resources analyst for Westminster, Colorado, which sprinklers its new homes. "As we worked through that, we realized sprinklers didn’t make a difference. Single-family homes with sprinklers were going to use water like any single-family home.”


A new research report from NFPA also verifies Feinglas' statements. The report, "Stakeholder Perceptions of Home Fire Sprinklers," notes that water purveyors in states requiring this technology in new homes have very little concern for home fire sprinklers. 


Read the full article, and please start educating your local water purveyors on the truth behind home fire sprinklers. Use these free resources by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team has been alerted to the following sprinkler activations, or "saves," as our advocates like to call them. These stories might lack the harrowing rescues and lives-in-peril anecdotes found in stories involving unsprinklered homes, but they are prime examples of a technology saving lives on a national scale: 


Wilmington, North Carolina 

A resident who built her own home with help from Habitat for Humanity watched as a fire sprinkler saved it from destruction. Carol Tyson was cooking fish and quickly left the room. She was soon alerted to a grease fire in the kitchen by her screaming husband. "I just knew the whole kitchen was just going to blow up, that's how bad the fire was," Tyson told a local NBC affiliate. "Before we can do anything the sprinklers came on." Knowing the sprinklers spared her home from fire has left her with a "warm feeling," she added.  


Westminster, Colorado

Firefighters responded to reports of a fire alarm activation at a residence. Witnesses also reported seeing billowing smoke. When the crew arrived at the scene, the fire had already been contained by a single fire sprinkler. The incident not only exemplifies the quick action of fire sprinklers, but necessity of fire sprinkler requirements. Westminster is one of a number of Colorado communities that has passed an ordinance to sprinkler new homes. 


Milford, Delaware

According to a Facebook post by Wayman Fire Protection, a resident left a frying pan filled with grease on the stove. Thinking the stove was turned off, he then fell asleep in his living room while watching TV. He awoke to the sound of the smoke alarm, and as he approached the kitchen, the pan ignited. He then took the pan to the sink and ran water over it, creating enough heat to activate the kitchen's fire sprinkler. The sprinkler limited the home's fire damage.


Brockton, Massachusetts

A residence in this town is no stranger to fire; over a 13-year period, firefighters have responded to three fires at the same structure, the most recent occurring in December. However, the structure has undergone rehabilitation and now includes fire sprinklers, which were activated during the recent fire. No residents were hurt or displaced thanks to the sprinkler save. "It could have been a lot worse," Brockton Fire Deputy Chief Brian Nardelli told a local news outlet. "We've had some pretty significant fires there in the past."



For more sprinkler saves, including ones in your state, visit the Sprinkler Saves website.  

Home fire sprinklers have apparently gotten the endorsement from one of America's top home-improvement experts. 

A recent article that appeared on Mr. Vila's website details the reasons why every new home should be equipped with home fire sprinklers. "When it comes to the safety of your family and the protection of your greatest investment, it’s so much better to be safe than sorry,” technical specialist Daniel O'Brian says in the article. 


The article adequately tackles:


  • fire sprinkler operation 
  • the difference between an integrated and standalone sprinkler
  • home insurance discounts on fire sprinklers
  • the persistent myths on fire sprinklers that need to be silenced


"There’s a perception that fire sprinklers are finicky and oversensitive, often doing more harm than good. But, according to O’Brian, the reality is that fire sprinklers are less complicated and 'more sophisticated than they usually get credit for,'" states the article. 


Read the full story for more information. 

On average, there are nearly 13,000 civilian fire injuries attributed to home fires each year. 


In cooperation with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, NFPA has produced a new video underscoring the painful aftermath of these injuries. Burn care specialists from the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center, one of the premier burn care hospitals in the U.S., detail the frequency of home fire injuries and painstaking recovery of burn survivors. Their stories help underscore the arduous recovery and procedures survivors endure post-fire.


The video is the latest produced for NFPA’s Faces of Fire Campaign, a component of NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative that helps humanize North America’s home fire problem and highlights the necessity of fire sprinklers in new homes. We will be releasing a second video from our interviews with the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center specialists in the next few weeks and will alert you when it’s available.

Please help us spread the word about this important video by: 


Let us know your thoughts on the new video by replying directly to this post:


Home fire sprinklers aren't a building code requirement in Alberta, Canada, but that has not stopped city officials from getting a handle on this technology when developers and homeowners start requesting them. 


At the request of the City of Calgary, NFPA hosted a free, day-and-a-half class highlighting requirements in NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes. The class was the first of its kind in Canada. Nearly 30 building inspectors and plan examiners heard from fire safety experts who explained sprinkler components, water supply options, and what to look for--or red flag--when inspecting this technology in new homes. Alberta follows the 2010 edition of NFPA 13D if homes are sprinklered in the province and also has certain plumbing code requirements for this technology.


Chad Duffy, senior fire protection engineer for NFPA, led city officials through an overview of NFPA 13D and the provisions that make it a life-safety standard. Jeff Hudson, NFPA's regional sprinkler specialist, linked the group with free resources from the Fire Sprinkler Initiative and Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, in the event homeowners start requesting educational material. NFPA's partner, the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association (CASA), also walked the group through a general sprinkler plan review. Matt Osburn, CASA's communications manager, underscored sprinkler pressure and flow requirements, sprinkler riser components, and other details a plan submitter should provide. 


Taking the lesson outside of the classroom, attendees then also got an up-close-and-personal view of fire sprinklers in some of Calgary's homes currently under construction. Under CASA and NFPA's guidance, they examined all sprinkler components, noting any concerns and accuracies. "Make sure there are no obstructions [to the sprinkler head]," Jason Ryckman, CASA's national codes and standards manager, told the group as he pointed upwards at a sprinkler. He also instructed the group to make sure the exposed sprinkler piping was from a listed brand. 


NFPA has conducted similar NFPA 13D classes throughout North America for various fire sprinkler coalitions, showcasing a growing interest in this type of home fire protection. "Bringing this information and expertise to our Canadian stakeholders was a great opportunity to further our mission of helping others save lives and reduce loss from home fires," says Shayne Mintz, NFPA's Canadian regional director. "This was a great opportunity to demonstrate how borderless NFPA truly is."


Here are some additional photos from the visit:


One inspector was intrigued by this concealed fire sprinkler

Notice the fire sprinkler protecting this kitchen?


Nearly 30 inspectors participated in the class conducted by NFPA and CASA.

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