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.