I recently had a chat with a number of fire and life safety educators, and the majority of them said the public is vastly unaware of home fire sprinkler operation or the necessity of this technology. Hollywood's portrayal of fire sprinklers, they added, doesn't help.
You, our fire sprinkler advocates, can be a valuable mythbuster. The more times you're able to set the record straight about home fire sprinklers, the more informed the public will become on this technology.
- If presenting on home fire sprinklers, please differentiate the myths versus the facts. Use our new PowerPoint presentation to help you.
- Each week, share a new sprinkler myth vs. fact on social media. (How about Sprinkler Myth Mondays?)
- Write letters to the editor underscoring the truth on sprinklers, especially if you've read or seen anything that's inaccurate. "Sprinklers, once activated, will flood your home" or "smoke alarms are adequate fire protection in your home" are myths that always need a dose of reality.
Take, for instance, the latter myth. NFPA's research notes that the percentage of fire fatalities in homes with working smoke alarms is increasing. Twenty years ago, about one of every five home fire fatalities occurred in homes with a working smoke alarm. That figure today is about one in every three. While this trend could be attributed to more homes being equipped with the device, it does indicate that smoke alarms should only be a component to home fire safety. Home fire sprinklers reduce your risk of dying by 80 percent. Smoke alarms alone cut this risk by half.
Our research also points to a 99 percent survival rate from fire in homes with working smoke alarms. Our opponents love to highlight this statistic since, they feel, it captures the device's effectiveness in saving lives. But consider this:
- Each year, approximately 2,500 home fire deaths occur in more than 365,000 reported structure fires. Therefore, the likelihood of surviving a home fire is approximately 99 percent without regard to the presence of smoke alarms or any other fire safety provisions. Does that mean 2,500 deaths are acceptable? Most people would say no.
- Each year, there are an estimated 12,000 deaths due to falls in homes and an estimated 11 million fall injuries in the home. The likelihood of surviving a fall is therefore 99.9 percent. Does that mean 12,000 deaths are acceptable? Most people would say no.
Please educate yourself on the facts and become a local mythbuster on home fire sprinklers. Use these responses to aid you.