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Looking to get in and out of the airport as quickly as possible? Travel with Tim Travers.

 

During one of my first work journeys with him, the minute we entered the airport, he stopped our conversation and beelined it at warp speed to TSA pre-check. My attempts to catch up to him were fruitless; next time I saw him, he was sitting cozy at the gate. Me? I was out of breath from trying to chase him down. Then, when I sat beside him, the gate agent started the boarding process. Since he has JetBlue status, he boarded immediately. He popped up from his chair, gave me a "have a nice flight," and sped down the jetway, travel rolly in hand. I felt like Tom Hanks in the movie "Catch Me if You Can."

 

Tim says goodbye to NFPA this week. In a way, his Speedy Gonzalez performance at the airport mirrored the way he performed his job: efficient, punctual, flawless. Tim, though, wasn't just a great employee; he's also a stellar guy. I've had the pleasure of working with him since 2013, when I joined the Fire Sprinkler Initiative team. Knowing little about fire sprinklers in homes, Tim, who started here in 2011, was one of my tutors. It's easy to get bogged down by all the techy and legislative aspects pertaining to home fire sprinklers, but I'll never forget Tim's patience in explaining these intricacies to me. Also, whenever I needed something from Tim, he responded to emails in record time, usually within minutes. While on the road and unable to get to my email immediately (I think Tim once told me he traveled, on average, 18 days out of the month), he'd call me with an answer to my question. Again, Speedy Gonzalez.

 

It's no surprise that a 35-year veteran of the fire service has a knack for helping others. It's in Tim's blood and brain, the latter crammed with extensive knowledge on an array of topics that might make some a know-it-all or ego maniac. Tim isn't either. Brilliant but with heart, he was one of the best types of coworkers. He may appear stoic at first, but his humanity and selflessness always emerged. Whether helping me craft a story on a new sprinkler law, helping create sprinkler coalitions throughout his region (half of the U.S., mind you), or presenting at a public education summit, Tim's impact can be felt nationwide. His fire service career aside, I'm hoping Tim leaves us knowing his work has helped save lives.

 

Starting this week, Tim embarks on his next journey: retirement. The news, for me, has been bittersweet. I'm one part happy that he has ample time to spend with his family and another part sad that we (more selfishly, me) will be losing such an amazing coworker.

 

Have a happy retirement, Tim. Your many friends at NFPA and beyond will miss you.

 

NFPA will continue to be a valuable resource in the states served by Tim. Going forward, other members of our Fire Sprinkler Initiative team and NFPA’s regional staff will be available to assist with your sprinkler education and advocacy efforts. If you need our assistance in regions served by Tim, please contact Barbara Dunn at 617-984-7285, and she will direct your inquiry to the proper staff person.

Fire officials have pointed to a menorah as the cause of a Brooklyn home fire that claimed the lives of a mother and her three children. The family's father and other children were injured in the fire, reported The New York Times. Two days later, in another part of New York, another fire killed a man and three children. The cause is still under investigation, reports the Associated Press.

 

Jerry DeLuca, executive director and CEO of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, offered the following statement on these tragedies to NFPA: "This week as we concluded the celebration of Hanukkah and prepare for Christmas, seven New Yorkers have once again been the tragic victims of fire. From Brooklyn to Stockholm in Northern New York, we have seen the senseless loss of life that may have been prevented if homes were equipped with home fire sprinklers.  At this time of year, fatal fires seem to have an even greater impact on all of us; the families are dealing with loss at a time they are supposed to be celebrating and the firefighters who respond are also impacted as they confront their own feelings and emotions. As the fire service, we must speak out and speak up to ensure that the decision makers take action to improve fire safety, require home fire sprinklers, and prevent such tragedies from continuing to occur."

 


Your own voice can be a powerful force to help end these tragedies. If home fires happen in your region, speak out. Use our "tips on communicating home fire sprinklers to the media" document to help you. 

Earlier this month, we highlighted a story out of Texas, where the state's homebuilding industry has reportedly spent $24 million over the past three years funding lobbying efforts against home fire sprinkler requirements. Furthering its analysis on prohibiting fire sprinkler requirements is "The Secret List," appearing on FireFighterCloseCalls.com.  

 

"Let's give car buyers three choices of braking systems: good, better, and best," states the article, which makes a comparison to other industries not adhering to the most advanced safety standards. "Maybe the makers of airplanes shouldn’t be required to have all of those crazy gauges, [but] just a few, in order to keep their costs 'affordable.'

 

"Yet some homebuilders continue to win even though their arguments [against home fire sprinkler requirements] don’t hold water. In fact, state lawmakers have made it illegal for Texas cities to mandate sprinklers ... in all new single-family homes."

 

Similar laws are unfortunately on the books in a number of other states. If that's the case in your state, don't just get mad. Take action. Our Fire Sprinkler Initiative site has the resources to push for these requirements to your state's decision makers. If your state doesn't have a fire sprinkler coalition, work with us to initiate one. 

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel recently weighed in on a state fire sprinkler requirement, stating in an opinion that requiring this technology in apartment units with three to 20 units is unlawful. This requirement, adopted by the state's Department of Safety and Professional Services for new builds after January 2011, has been challenged by the Wisconsin Builders Association. The builders argue the state legislature prohibits agencies from setting regulations. 

 

Recently coming to the defense of fire safety is the editorial board for the Journal Times. In a recent editorial, it states: "Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing told a Milwaukee newspaper in August: 'To think we’re going to roll that back is disheartening. As firefighters, we know that sprinklers save lives. When you look at a building and you think ‘What can I do for protecting that building and the people in it?’ the single most important component of that is a sprinkler system.'

He called on legislators to take up the issue directly. We echo that call."

 

The board adds that residential sprinklers further the progress Wisconsin and America as a whole has made in reducing its home fire problem. It references NFPA data on fire. About 40 years ago, almost 6,000 people died in home fires. Today, that number has remained at a fairly stagnant 2,500 people. "That’s progress and the Legislature should keep us on the path toward reducing those numbers with a sprinkle of support."

A statewide, fire sprinkler requirement for all new homes in Pennsylvania was set to take place in 2011. Then, sprinkler opponents there helped kill the requirement. (Read this report documenting how homebuilder influence aided the elmination of this requirement.)  

 

Despite the statewide ban for sprinkler requirements, Pennsylvania safety advocates are ramping up their efforts again. According to a story appearing on an ABC station, the Pennsylvania state fire commissioner and others will once again underscore the necessity of this technology in all new homes in the hopes of enacting another sprinkler requirement. 

 

Interviewed by the ABC station, Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay, a member of the Pennsylvania Fire Sprinkler Coalition, says countering the opponents' claims on sprinklers--particularly, the notion that this technology will surge the price of new homes--will be a primary focus.

 

Interested in getting on board for this cause? Contact the Pennsylvania Fire Sprinkler Coalition. 

Our friends at the Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology in Toronto sent us the following video featuring a demonstration including one of our favorite inventions: the home fire sprinkler. 

 

Students at Seneca's School of Fire Protection with varied interests in fire protection and safety participated in the demonstration. Fire protection students, for instance, helped build the identical structures, one equipped with fire sprinklers, the other without. Fire protection engineering tech students participated in public education efforts tied to the event that included resources from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Students with an interest in firefighting helped suppress the flames in the unsprinklered structure. These events are prime examples of the fire concerns of today's homes.  

 

"Students quickly see how what they are learning in the classrooms and labs can be directly applied to saving lives," Scott Pugsley, industry coordinator and professor at Seneca's School of Fire Protection, tells NFPA. "Staff and guests are always taken aback by the speed at which the fire grows and how vulnerable [fire] can be in under three minutes."

 

Watch and share this important demonstration: 

 

In the newest edition of our Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter, read how the popular TV news show addressed the home fire problem in a story that included a burn demonstration inside a home.

 

You'll also read stories on:

 

  • our five-part podcast series that brings our fire statistics to life
  • FEMA now sprinklering its emergency housing
  • homebuilders in one state spending $24 million fighting fire sprinkler requirements

 

Don't miss an issue of our monthly newsletter; register to receive it in your inbox. You'll get monthly notifications of our newest resources and fire sprinkler news you need to know.

In the latest edition of Sprinkler Age, the magazine for the American Fire Sprinkler Association, we wrote an article highlighting five steps that can better your advocacy for home fire sprinklers. If you're new to the advocacy world or want a more defined approach, take note of these five steps highlighted in the article:

 

1. Understand the Problem. Before you can promote the solution to America’s home fire problem, you must explain why the solution matters. Use NFPA’s extensive research reports underscoring, annually, the tragedies associated with home fires.

 

2. Join the Good Fight. You now can lend your voice and expertise on fire sprinklers to a growing, grassroots movement. Thirty states (and one Canadian province) have developed fire sprinkler coalitions. If your state doesn’t have a coalition, contact NFPA. We can help you initiate one.  

 

3. Promote the Solution. If you’re looking for resources promoting these astounding statistics, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative’s “Take Action” page. There, you’ll find infographics, fact sheets, and videos ideal for social media sharing. Our newest resource is a downloadable, advocacy toolkit featuring the Fire Sprinkler Initiative’s greatest hits. 

 

4. Counter the Opposition. Anytime you hear or see a “sprinkler myth” being perpetuated in your region, use your voice and state the facts. Write a letter to the editor in response to an anti-sprinkler story or let the public know a home fire incident may have been prevented if fire sprinklers were present. If there is a “sprinkler save” in your region, highlight it.

 

5. Stay in the Know. We are always creating new resources aimed at taking the guesswork out of fire sprinkler advocacy. Subscribe to the Fire Sprinkler Initiative's monthly newsletter and get alerted to these resources. You’ll also read about sprinkler news making headlines and new tactics for advocacy. The more knowledgeable you are, the more effective you can be as an advocate. 

Here's an alarming statistic pulled from NFPA's "Characteristics of Home Fire Victims" report: only 13 percent of the U.S. population is 65 or older, but 30 percent of fatal home fire victims were at least 65 years of age.

 

And here's another one: from 1980-2011, the percentage of home fire victims over 65 years increased from 19 percent to 31 percent. 

 

The fact that older adults are at greater risk from fire was underscored in a recent article by the New Haven Register. Per the report, fire death rates for Connecticut residents 50 years or older were about four times higher than residents between the ages of 10 to 49. "You don't want to think, 'OK, I'll climb out of the window' if you're a person confined to a bed or have a walker or if you have difficulty walking normally," New Haven Fire Chief John Alston told the publication. 

 

According to the story, Connecticut's older adults have been very receptive to presentations and public education efforts on fire safety. (Use these tips and resources from NFPA to aid your own efforts.) While discussing fire safety, make sure home fire sprinklers are a component of your outreach. Jim O'Brien, chief of the West Haven Fire Department, promoted this technology in the story, noting there is a "major movement by the U.S. fire service to require sprinklers in all new homes." The Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition and others have helped spread this movement across North America. 

 

Want to give a presentation on home fire sprinklers to members of your community? Download this new presentation produced by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative. 

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