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.