Could residential fire sprinklers have prevented the death of a 25-year-old?

Blog Post created by freddurso Employee on Oct 30, 2017

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."