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2017

Speaking out in support of home fire sprinklers is an effective way of getting the public's attention on a technology that might be foreign to them. Doing just that is Brian Bechtel, chief inspector with the Crawfordsville, Indiana, Fire Department. He recently wrote a piece for The Paper, a local publication, that underscores a plethora of myths on fire sprinklers. His opinion piece includes the following facts:

 

  • representatives from the National Association of Home Builders, he states, argue fire sprinkler requirements drive up housing costs and price people out of new homes. Bechtel sites research from NFPA and others stating there have been no negative impacts on development in towns that have embraced sprinkler requirements 
  • modern fire sprinklers are inconspicuous and not eyesores 
  • fire sprinklers are suitable for homes in both rural and urban settings; water for sprinklers can come from a home's domestic water supply or a tank-and-pump system

 

"I do believe that it has been proven over and over again that air bags combined with seatbelts have saved numerous lives and prevented unnecessary trauma to people," Bechtel states in his piece. "I think sprinklers could help just the same in our homes.

 

"If a simple thing like a few well-placed sprinkler heads in a home could prevent a tragedy, why wouldn't it be worth looking into?"

 


Educate yourself on all of the myths and facts on home fire sprinklers. 

In a state currently battling fire sprinkler requirements, a news story discusses the potential effects of not embracing these requirements in residential settings. 

 

The Tampa Bay Times recently underscored the death of 25-year-old Zachary Means, who died from fire earlier this year in his Florida residence. Means was an Eckerd College graduate and described as a "superstar" for his research involving environmental and medical issues. Following a horrific account of how Means and his roommate attempted to flee the fire, the article also discusses how Florida fire officials have been pushing for residential fire sprinkler requirements. The article focuses on a sprinkler's impact in condos, but the same arguments for this technology are applicable in the new, one- and two-family home setting. 

 

"Smoke alarms are great, but my 94-year-old mother, if she gets on her walker, her face is up in the smoke and she's not going to get out," Jon Pasqualone, executive director of the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, told the paper. "Sprinklers stop the fire from growing and spreading." 

 

For years, legislation has prevented fire sprinklers in certain residential settings. Most recently, the state legislature passed a bill extending a deadline to install fire sprinklers for condos built before 1994 and higher than 75 feet. (The requirement deadline had already been extended twice by the legislature.) State law requires condos built after 1994 to install fire sprinklers. Following London's Grenfell Tower fire this year, Florida Governor Rick Scott, quickly vetoed the bill. 

 

When asked if fire sprinklers could have saved 25-year-old Means, Lieutenant Steven Lawrence with St. Petersburg Fire Rescue told the paper, "It probably would have kept the fire from spreading inside" and "provided a safer environment in which to escape."

Millions of Americans this week woke to a story on one of NFPA's favorite topics: home fire sprinklers. 

 

Using NFPA's data on today's home fires, "Good Morning America" underscored today's home fire problem in a news story that also included a burn demonstration inside a home. UL and the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) initiated two burns inside the home, once inside a room with fire sprinklers and one without. Both results were dramatic. 

 

ABC also reached out to the National Association of Home Builders, who told them "smoke detectors are still the most cost-effective means for saving lives in a home fire. Sprinklers can add thousands to the cost of a new home." And, it adds, sprinklers have "marginal benefits." Since fire sprinklers save lives and have been doing so in many structures across the country, I would hardly call this purpose a "marginal benefit."

 

The story also points to the Fire Protection Research Foundation's latest report on fire sprinkler installation costs. Without stating so in the story, the average installation cost per square foot is $1.35, proving the affordability of this technology. Shane Ray, NFSA's president, also calls out the number of states currently prohibiting fire sprinklers on either a local or state level.

 

Watch the news clip, and let us know what you think of ABC's coverage by replying to this blog post.

In NFPA's latest edition of its Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, learn how homebuilders might be trying to get out of a requirement to sprinkler new homes. You'll also read about: 

 

  • five easy steps to better your advocacy for home fire sprinklers
  • Angie's List--once again--supports fire sprinklers
  • why there's no rational explanation for opposing this technology, states a recent editorial

 

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter today, and make sure you're on top of important sprinkler news happening across North America. 

It's not everyday you hear about a homebuilder having positive things to say about home fire sprinklers. However, that's exactly what happened following an installation in Boxford, Massachusetts. 

 

An article appearing in Sprinkler Age, the magazine for the American Fire Sprinkler Association, highlights a couple who wanted to create a home that was as fire-safe as possible. All homes, according to the article, have their own well, since there is no town water supply. That's why the home is equipped with a tank-and-pump system. "The homeowners and I discussed installing fire sprinklers right out of the gate," Steve Howell with Howell Custom Builders told the magazine. He adds that the home's quarter-mile-long driveway with a 120-foot rise would have been challenging for the fire service to access in the event of a fire. 

 

Boxford's Fire Chief Brian Geiger says his department always emphasizes fire prevention and role fire sprinklers play in reducing fire risks. "We spend a lot of time in homes making sure everything is to code, especially these systems," Geiger told the magazine. "We know that fire sprinklers give a homeowner the extra time needed to get out of a burning home, and that saves lives. In a town with no town water, no hydrants, and a call fire department, this team approach to fire safety is very important."

 

Read the full article appearing in Sprinkler Age (starting on page 55). 

During the recent groundbreaking, Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating joined Paul Skarinka and his wife, Jenn, at the site of their new home

 

Corporal Paul Skarinka was eight months into his first tour of duty with the U.S. Army when his unit came under enemy fire while on a mission outside of Baghdad in 2014. During a rocket-propelled grenade explosion, Skarinka suffered a severed artery and serious damage to his left arm and leg. He was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, where he underwent 22 surgeries, including the amputation of his left leg below the knee and partial amputation of his left arm.

 

Living with his wife and two children in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Skarinka continues to serve his community, obtaining his EMT/paramedic license to assist with the Plympton Fire Department and Brewster Ambulance Service. Still, his battle injuries remain a daily issue. Though he and his wife own their home, it is not handicap accessible or conducive to his needs as a recent amputee. 

 

Thanks to efforts by Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors, Skarinka is relocating to a home in Hanson, Massachusetts, that better suits his needs. Groundbreaking begun this week on the home, which will also included home fire sprinklers. The Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition was able to secure the labor and materials to install the fire sprinklers at no cost. The wounded warriors organization, which raises money to build and remodel handicap accessible homes for veterans injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, makes a point to sprinkler all of its new homes. 

 

Are there similar organizations in your region that might benefit from a similar partnership?

In the parking lot of Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, a demonstration offered a reminder of the fire dangers lurking inside your home. 

 

Hosted by the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Prevention Association of Massachusetts, the live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration showed the large crowd at the Foxborough stadium the reason why new homes  need this technology. 

 

“Quite frankly, sprinklers buy time, and time buys life,” Dave LaFond, a regional manager for the National Fire Sprinkler Association and member of the Massachusetts coalition, told a local NBC station.

 

The news story included statements against sprinklers from the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts. The group claims hardwired smoke alarms alone are the best defense against fire in new homes. Learn how to counter this claim via the facts found on NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

 

The event coincided with the 500tmeeting of the Fire Prevention Association of Massachusetts.

Angie's List, the company that links its members with user-generated reviews of local businesses, has been a vocal advocate for home fire sprinklers. NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team has come across a series of articles over the years in which the company supports the use of this technology. 

 

Here's another one, in which Angie herself--Angie Hicks, the company's founder, to be exact--has a few positive things to say about fire sprinklers. "Sprinkler systems are proven to save lives, and we're seeing more and more of them being installed in homes and they're becoming more affordable," she states in an article that appeared on MyWabashValley.com. In fact, a handful of states even require sprinkler systems under certain conditions in homes."

 

The story includes pro-sprinkler statements from fire sprinkler industry and fire service professionals. 



Check out our case studies page highlighting communities that agree with Angie and have either embraced fire sprinklers in their new homes or a fire sprinkler ordinance.

During Fire Prevention Week (FPW), the Downers Grove Fire Department is hosting a "night at the firehouse" to underscore the necessity of home fire sprinklers. Via a live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration and thermal imaging equipment, the public will see firsthand how hot fire can get inside a home. 

 

If you're planning your own event around FPW, make sure you have giveaways or visuals on hand. Giving attendees something to take home or capture with their smartphone will ensure they have literature to review or share with additional people after your event. Some ideas:

 

 

If you're hosting an event and featuring fire sprinklers, let us know. Email the Fire Sprinkler Initiative team, and we'll share your efforts with our national audience!

In case you missed it, we're giving you the chance to view NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative's latest webinar. If you're new to fire sprinkler advocacy or want to better your efforts, please watch "Five Steps to Better Advocate for Home Fire Sprinklers." We outline steps to get energized and active in the push for fire sprinkler requirements across North America. 

 

Please watch the following teaser clip. You will need to register to NFPA's Xchange to watch the full webinar. If you haven't registered yet, it's free and easy to do.

 

In our latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, you’ll read about our upcoming podcast series, “The Survivors,” that gives an all-encompassing look at the lingering effects of American home fires. Podcast episodes will be released at the end of October. 

 

There’s also stories on:

• a fire sprinkler advocate taking on a sprinkler opponent
• one week, two tragedies avoided thanks to fire sprinklers
• who’s permitted to install home fire sprinklers

 

Not receiving this newsletter directly in your inbox? Register to receive it and stay on top of fire sprinkler news across North America.  

A new law in Wales went into effect in January, requiring fire sprinklers in all new homes. Wales is the first country in the world to pass such a requirement. 

 

However, homebuilders there have spent little time trying to avoid the new requirement. According to a recent story that appeared on Wales Online, this industry might be able to avoid sprinklering  a number of homes due to a loophole. A government official told the news outlet that some homebuilders pre-registered for some of the building sites before 2016, "which meant they locked themselves into an earlier set of building regulations."

 

"My understanding is that there are many thousands of homes that are yet to be built that have effectively circumnavigated the sprinkler measures," Wales Online reported Cabinet Secretary Carl Sargeant saying during an assembly committee meeting. "My personal view is that is inappropriate. We'd had discussions about how and if we can close that loophole."

 

As is the case in North America, Welsh builders tend to balk at fire sprinkler requirements, questioning its cost-effectiveness and claiming these laws stunt the housing market. The cost and the housing issue in the U.S. have both been countered by research. 

 

A staunch advocate for this requirement is Ann Jones; this Welsh legislator played an influential role in passing the country's sprinkler law. 

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