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According to commentary written by members of the New York Fire Sprinkler Initiative, a person's death from carbon monoxide poisoning inside a restaurant prompted immediate action. Legislators soon passed a law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all commercial properties. "This is an excellent example of public officials taking advantage of existing, widely available technologies to improve the public safety," stated David Quinn and Jerry Deluca in their commentary. 


They question why home fire sprinklers have not received the same urgency, considering that close to 30 people have already died from home fires in New York this year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.  Powerful voices from the state's homebuilding industry, they stated, have effectively made this technology seem unnecessary in new homes. 

 

"[The groups comprising the New York Fire Sprinkler Initiative] are constantly striving to reduce the number of fires and fire deaths," stated the authors. "We hold fire prevention classes, inform the public about the benefits of smoke alarms, and hold open houses at fire stations, but there is only so much we can do. Those in power must act to protect the public, and fire sprinklers are unquestionably effective in doing so. How many more people have to die before public safety takes precedent over profit?"

 


Please take action to get home fire sprinklers on your legislator's radar. Share these fact sheets with them, and alert them to your region's home fire problem.  

During an event that launched the new Rhode Island Fire Sprinkler Coalition, NFPA filmed a live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration using a 360-degree camera. The video underscores how rapidly fire spreads in today's homes and how quickly home fire sprinklers, a requirement in all U.S. model building codes, can extinguish the flames.

 

For optimal viewing, access the video via the YouTube app on your phone and maneuver your device in different directions to see various aspects of the event. Or, open the video in Google Chrome, click and hold your mouse over the video, and move the mouse in different directions to see the audience's reaction to the burn and the fire department's response to the demos. 

 

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Enjoy!

The home fire problem isn't specific to North America. Across the pond, European safety advocates have been active promoting the frequency of these incidents and the solution to the problem: home fire sprinklers.

 

An educational event hosted by the Cornwall Fire, Rescue, and Community Safety Service in the U.K., showcased the components of fire sprinklers and a demonstration to public officials. "This excellent event has provided Cornwall [members of parliament], councillors, and colleagues from Cornwall Council with strong evidence that sprinklers save lives," Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker told a local radio station.

 

One parliament member seemed impacted by the education he received at the event, telling the station that he will "certainly support moves to encourage their installation in both public buildings such as schools, as well as homes."

 

The news story also highlighted this video, similar to the Fire Sprinkler Initiative's Faces of Fire profiles, of a local father who lost his two sons in a home fire:

 

Cornwall's event serves as a reminder to always invite elected officials and your town's decision makers to any public education event involving fire sprinklers. Moreover, make home fire sprinklers a key, educational component in your outreach; if you're in the fire service, sign up to become a Built for Life fire department, a program initiated by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

A recent home fire literally has kept a former fire chief up at night. "It is just after 5:30 a.m. as I write this, and I'm doing so now because I cannot sleep," retired deputy fire chief Brian Maltby, wrote in a letter to the Toronto Star. "The tragic and needless fire deaths and injuries in Brampton [Ontario] ... are whirling through my head. They are needless and preventable." 

 

The residence where the fire occurred earlier this month had no working smoke alarms or fire sprinklers. A nineteen year old and her two parents died in the blaze. According to another news publication, a tenant rescued the couple's nine-year-old daughter from the blaze. She is recovering from third-degree burns and smoke inhalation. 

 

The fire would be a "non-event' had fire sprinklers been installed, Maltby wrote. "I am quite confident the family members and friends of the three deceased people in Brampton would have gladly spent [the money] to have had fire sprinklers installed in their home at the time of construction. Sadly, their funerals are likely going to cost more than that. Not to mention the astronomical medical expenses for the injured girl's recovery."

 

Maltby adds that that while the U.S. has hundreds of communities that have ordinances for home fire sprinklers, Ontario has zero. "Requirements for residential fire sprinklers in newly constructed homes needs to be mandated in our building codes now," he states. "No more preventable fire deaths!"

 

Now is the time to turn your anger over today's "preventable" home fire deaths into action. Submit similar letters to your local publications, and please share them with NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team so we can showcase them to our North American audience. Follow chief Maltby's letter as a template: identify your state or region's home fire problem, possibly include information on a recent home fire, and promote the fire sprinkler solution.

All it took for one homebuilder to start embracing home fire sprinklers was a little education. 

 

In the latest issue of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, read why Randy Propst made the decision to start fire sprinklering his new homes. You'll also find stories on: 

 

• a victory for the fire service after fighting efforts to weaken a state sprinkler requirement
• why the notion that “fire sprinklers should be left to the consumer” doesn’t gel with North America’s top safety advocates
• public educators raising awareness on home fire sprinklers by taking a #sprinklerselfie

 

Take 30 seconds and become a better advocate for home fire sprinklers--sign up for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter and start receiving this publication directly to your inbox once a month.

Fourteen years ago this week, a fire ripped through The Station Nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, and became one of the deadliest nightclub fires in U.S. history. Of the 100 people killed in the fire was Rob Feeney's fiancee, Donna Mitchell. Rob was also significantly injured in the blaze. 

 

Rob has vivid memories of his recovery and the heartbreaking realization that Donna was killed in the fire. Read his post about the fire written exclusively for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, and watch an interview featuring Rob returning to the site of The Station to recall what happened during the fire:

 

 

Since one in 10 Americans relocate each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, many acclimate to new settings without properly assessing their fire risks. New homes, for instance, pose a series of potential risks not seen in older homes.

 

Creating a new home safety plan is as crucial a step as making sure your plumbing is working properly. The website, New Home Source, has offered a series of planning tips, including a few "precautionary measures" while the home is under construction. "If you are building a new home, a home fire sprinkler should be as important as hardwood floors or granite countertops," Judy Comoletti, NFPA's division manager of public education, stated in an article that recently appeared on the website. "They protect lives by keeping fires small, they react quickly and can reduce the heat, flames, and smoke in a fire, allowing people more time to escape."

 

Read the full article for additional tips on assessing your new home's fire risks and other important information. 

Upon hearing that a residential fire sprinkler requirement was possibly on the chopping block, Wisconsin fire chiefs took action. 


The state's Department of Safety and Professional Services had plans to significantly reduce fire protection in the state's new apartment buildings. Current law requires fire sprinklers in three or more units, but the department had plans to require them only in complexes with 20 or more units. The local fire service immediately fired back. 

 

[Weakening the sprinkler law] not only puts civilians’ lives at risk, it puts firefighters' lives at risk," Fire Chief Rich Ugaste, president of the Wisconsin Fire Chiefs Association, told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. “A department that has safety in its name and safety in its mission should not be doing things that are unsafe for the public.”

 

A local TV station also reported that 40 Wisconsin fire chiefs stated their displeasure with the proposal and offered proof to elected officials that fire sprinklers save lives. Following their efforts and media attention on the law's change, the department decided to not alter the law. Sun Prairie Fire Chief Christopher Garrison told the station that the decision is a "huge win" for the fire service and home safety in Wisconsin. 

 


While this story underscores fire sprinklers in apartments, safety officials are mirroring this level of advocacy for sprinklering new, one- and two-family homes. It's easy to get started. Download our advocacy toolkit for some of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative's more popular resources.

A well-researched article appearing in the Cass County Democrat Missourian discusses why not embracing requirements for home fire sprinklers is playing with fire.  

 

The story proceeds a residential fire in Missouri that displaced nearly 30 residents and sheds light on a law there prohibiting municipalities from requiring fire sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes. Missouri lawmaker Rick Brattin supports the law, telling the publication "if people want [to install sprinklers] in their home, there's absolutely nothing that prohibits them from doing so. I'm more for ensuring that people have choices." 

 

Fire safety experts interviewed for this story disagree with this line of thinking. "[Legislators] should not be dictating the level of protection a community wants and is willing to pay for," Jim Ford, fire marshal for the city of Scottsdale, Arizona, told the publication. His city has witnessed extensive benefits since passing a fire sprinkler ordinance 30 years ago. "What states have done is taken away the decision-making authority for people who will pay the bill and are closest to the problem."

 

Since home fire sprinklers are a requirement in every U.S. model building code, there shouldn't even be an argument against the installation of this technology, says Shane Ray, president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association. "(Residents) don't get an option on smoke alarms; they don't get to select the size of the electrical service; they don't get to pick which glass is tempered or not," he told the publication. "Most citizens aren't informed enough to realize the need for some requirements ... that is why we have codes and standards to protect the citizen ... from substandard housing."

 

Read the full article, and watch this video featuring Jim Ford on the effects of Scottsdale's 30-year fire sprinkler ordinance: 

 

Fire Lieutenant Paul Machado was the guest speaker at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy's recent graduation ceremony. Thirty-five graduates at the celebration in Stow, Massachusetts, heard his story about attempting to save a woman he thought was inside a burning home. The fire nearly trapped him inside the structure, forcing him to leap from a window. He sustained burns on both arms, hands, ears, elbows, and shoulders. Home fire sprinklers, he says, would have drastically altered the outcome. 

 

As one of NFPA's Faces of Fire, Machado has made a point to promote fire sprinklers as a firefighter safety issue. He tied his comments at the graduation ceremony to the importance of training, according to a recent news story about the event.  

 

Hear and share Machado's story: 

 

During Burn Awareness Week, NFPA is underscoring the human aftermath of home fires. In the second of two videos produced by NFPA, burn care specialists from the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center, one of the premier burn care hospitals in the U.S., describe the aftermath their patients face and the healing power of peer support. Support from other survivors can help lessen the pain and stigma associated with burn injuries.

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.

Please help us spread the word about this important video, which was created in collaboration with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.

Share this video during Burn Awareness Week by:

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A legislator who supports fire sprinklers has once again introduced a bill to further protect his state's new homes. 

 

New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski recently introduced a bill that would require this technology in new townhomes. Chair of the New Jersey Fire Safety Commission and friend of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Wisniewski introduced similar legislation in the past for all new homes, but it was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie. The new bill, titled the "New Townhouse Fire Safety Act," would only pertain to these settings. Increasing fire protection at home was once again placed in the spotlight this week after a fire damaged a residential complex under construction.

 

Prior to introducing the new bill, Wisniewski took part in a live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration late last year to showcase how a Christmas tree burns in a sprinklered and unsprinklered building.

 

Check this blog often for updates on the bill's progression. 

 

"I lost everything [in a home fire]," retired fire captain Richard Soo recently told a Hawaiian ABC affiliate. "I lost my retirement badges. My helmet. All my momentos and my children's pictures and photographs, everything was gone."

 

Having rebuilt his home with fire sprinklers, Soo is also advocating for this technology in his state's new homes. "Certain communities [across the country] are required by law to have fire sprinklers. I would like to see this community have a requirement for sprinklers in residential units."

 

Soo isn't alone. Other Hawaiian fire safety advocates are ramping up efforts in support of sprinkler requirements. The Aloha State currently prohibits local jurisdictions from adopting sprinkler ordinances. This legislation sunsets this year, but a new bill has been introduced that would make the prohibition permanent. (The bill also states it would require sprinklers for new homes requiring a variance from access road or firefighting water supply requirements.) Another bill would require contractors to inform buyers of fire sprinklers while providing cost estimates and benefits of the technology. Delaware passed a similar law in 2015. We will keep you posted on how these bills progress.

 


Want more information on introducing fire sprinkler bills or supporting existing ones in your state? Contact NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team. 

Wisconsin officials have proposed changes in state regulations that would reduce requirements for fire sprinklers in new homes, college dorms, hotels, and other buildings. Among the proposals is one that would require sprinklers in buildings with 20 or more units. Current regulations require sprinklers in buildings with three or more units.

 

State firefighters and buildings inspectors say the proposed changes simply don’t make sense. During a public hearing earlier this week, Robert Ugaste, Wauwatosa fire chief and president of the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association, was adamant that fire sprinklers are a proven method for combating home fires. He expressed  confusion as to why officials would want to remove the regulations. According to a recent news story, the general consensus among other Wisconsin fire chiefs is that reducing building costs by sacrificing safety is the wrong move. Eau Claire Fire Chief Chris Bell told the Leader-Telegram that such changes would hamper efforts to reduce home fires.

 

Primary supporters for the proposed changes believe requiring fire sprinklers is a financial burden for homeowners. The state’s Department of Safety and Professional Services, who sponsored the public hearing, says the current regulations are too expensive for both builders and homebuyers. The Wisconsin Builders Association believes the proposed changes would strike the appropriate balance between safety and affordability. However, research on the cost of home sprinklers  conducted by NFPA shows that fire sprinklers can be a cost-effective addition to new homes.

 

Other public hearings might occur on the proposed changes, which could eventually reach the state legislature for a vote. In the meantime, the Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition will continue educating the public on the necessity of fire sprinklers in all new homes.

Winners of the Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition's public education campaign were honored during a recent Fire Team USA event in Florida. (From left) Shane Ray, president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA); Lorrell Bush, Florida Fire Sprinkler Association, Vickie Pritchett, NFSA, Tim Travers, NFPA; Claudia Faiola, public educator from Pinellas County; Jillian Rose, public educator from Pinellas County; Lana Stevanovic, public educator from Pinellas County; Wendy Niles, co-chair of the Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition; and Lisa Brekke, public educator from Pinellas County.

 

Last year, the newly formed Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition initiated a campaign to bolster awareness of home fire sprinklers throughout the state. The coalition tasked participants to think outside the box, and entrants didn't disappoint. 

 

Using unique Twitter hashtags (#sprinklerselfie) and catchy catchphrases ("If there were a cure for home fires, would you buy it?"), public educators from Pinellas County won the competition. Educators from seven towns within the county created informational brochures, a PowerPoint presentation, and public service announcements (PSAs) to "create not only an educational campaign to use within the community but also an awareness campaign to garner participation and engagement," states their campaign proposal. 

 

Regarding engagement, one of the new video PSAs tasks Floridians to tweet photos of them holding up a fire sprinkler using the #sprinklerselfie hashtag: 

 

Another PSA showcases the educators underscoring key NFPA statistics on home fires and sprinklers

 

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team congratulates Pinellas County for their efforts, and for the Florida coalition for initiating an ingenious idea.

 

Join Pinellas County residents in sharing their sprinkler selfies on Twitter. Don't forget to use the hashtag #sprinklerselfie and tag the Fire Sprinkler Initiative (@NFPA_FSI) so we can retweet you! 

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