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2018

Water purveyors might not be aware of the technical aspects of home fire sprinklers or the benefits of this technology. Sprinkler misconceptions have led this group to assess extraneous fees that can drive up installation cost.

 

Addressing this problem, coalition members have joined forces to educate their local water purveyors on home fire sprinklers. Members of the Washington and Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalitions recently attended the Pacific Northwest American Water Works Association Section Conference at the Tacoma Convention Center in Tacoma, Washington. The coalitions brought in an experienced water purveyor, Carl Lunak, during an educational session describing his experience partnering with stakeholders in reducing cost barriers related to water supplies for home fire sprinklers. 

 

Have you initiated conversations with your local water purveyors? Use this free tool from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition for support. This guide includes information on types of sprinkler layouts, water connections and supply, water usage, and environmental benefits. 

An April residential fire in Jersey City, New Jersey injured two firefighters and displaced more than 40 people from 11 families. A number of pets died in the blaze. According to a news report on the fire, Jersey City Fire Chief Steven McGill stated that the "fire spread throughout the building very rapidly and as soon as we got in there, there's not enough water you could put on there to put it out fast."

 

The residence had working smoke alarms but no fire sprinklers. "In this instance, having a fire sprinkler system could have changed the outcome entirely," stated David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, in a recent commentary about the fire. Kurasz is also a member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition. "The spread of the fire would have been controlled by multiple sprinklers and may not have had the opportunity to affect the building next door. Firefighters would have had more time and water to put out the blaze completely. Pets and belongings would have been saved."

 

While bringing attention to the necessity of fire sprinklers, the fire also underscores the importance of fire safety for pets. Fire sprinklers can be one of the best safeguards in your home if a fire begins and you're not there to rescue them. Here are a few other facts and safety tips from NFPA pertaining to pets: 

 

  • Pets and wild animals have a part in starting about 700 home fires per year. Roughly three-quarters of these fires were started by cooking equipment, fireplaces or chimneys, lighting, or candles.
  • Pets are curious. They may bump into, turn on, or knock over cooking equipment. Keep pets away from stoves and countertops.
  • Some pets are chewers. Watch pets to make sure they don’t chew through electrical cords. Have any problems checked by a professional.

 

Download NFPA's pet fire safety tip sheet for more information. 

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative has produced a series of free webinars over the years that are sure to perfect your safety advocacy efforts. They're available whenever you have some free time to view them and include: 

 

  • #TheSolutionExists: Using Social Media to Underscore Today's Fire Problem & Home Fire Sprinklers
  • Modern Lightweight Construction and Building Construction
  • Effective Tactics for Advocating for Home Fire Sprinklers
  • Enhancing Grassroots Efforts Supporting Home Fire Sprinklers

 

All webinars are fairly brief and available on the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website. Learn something new--watch one today. 

In recent weeks, the city of Glendale, Arizona, has experienced a significant amount of fire sprinkler saves. These fires  were extinguished in residences and other sprinklered settings, prompting the Glendale Fire Department to praise this technology. 

 

"Because we have seen such a large amount of fires that have been controlled effectively by sprinklers we wanted to remind the public what a valuable tool they really are," the department stated in a recent news release. "Thanks to these systems being tested and working properly, not only was property saved but so were lives."

 

The department highlighted NFPA's key statistics on fire sprinklers, including the fact that the home fire death rate was 90 percent lower when fire sprinklers and hardwired smoke alarms were present. Glendale also encouraged the public to ensure fire sprinklers are in good working order. The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition has outlined these simple steps for homeowners. 

 

"[We] would like to thank the home and business owners that are taking the extra step to protect their property by installing these sprinkler systems," states the news release.

 

Nearby Scottsdale, Arizona, has also benefited from fire sprinkler protection following the passage of a home ordinance more than 30 years. Watch this video to learn more: 

Unsure how to join the many safety advocates taking action during North America's first Home Fire Sprinkler Day? Don't fret. Whether planning a citywide event or simply alerting your social media contacts about the day, your participation will be a crucial component to Sprinkler Day's success. If you haven't yet planned an event for Saturday, May 19, here are some ideas: 

 

 

Please join us in taking action for this important event. If we can offer any additional assistance, please let us know.

Here is today's disturbing fact: forty percent of people recently surveyed believe they are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than experience a home fire. 

 

This finding was one of many underscored by the American Red Cross in a new survey of more than 600 American adults. The results underscore a public woefully underprepared for a home fire and mistaken on the realities of these incidents. 

 

Per NFPA's research, seven people die every day from home fires. These frequent incidents represent the majority of the nearly 64,000 disasters that the American Red Cross responds to each year, according to a news release on the survey. About 40 percent of survey takers admitted to actions that could contribute to a home fire, including forgetting to turn off a stove or oven. Despite these facts, a small percentage think they will ever experience a home fire in their lifetime. 

 

Moreover, the majority of respondents believe everyone knows what to do in the event of a smoke alarm activation, but less than half have a home fire escape plan in place. Of those families that have developed a plan, only half of them practice it. (NFPA recommends practicing your escape plan twice a year.) Even more disturbing is the finding that the majority of survey takers feel they would have ample time to escape a burning home. In reality, home fires can become deadly in as little as two minutes. 

 

If we are to convince decision makers on the necessity of fire sprinklers in new homes, we need to first educate them on the problem. Please use these new facts from the Red Cross during your outreach efforts.  

 

 

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition have created a proclamation declaring Saturday, May 19 Home Fire Sprinkler Day. Have your city or town's official sign the proclamation to acknowledging the event and any local activities associated with it. 

 

Download the proclamation (we even have a Canadian version) and our other free resources aimed at making your Sprinkler Day event a successful one. 

Photo: Twitter

 

Tragedy has once again placed a national spotlight on fire sprinklers.  

 

A recent fire at New York City's Trump Tower claimed the life of 67-year-old Todd Brassner and injured six firefighters, reports ABC News. The 50th-floor residence had no working smoke alarms or fire sprinklers. The fire's cause is believed to be accidental. 

 

Completed in 1983, the building was constructed prior to the passage of a 1999 city law requiring sprinklers in new, residential buildings with four or more units. The law also applies to existing residential buildings that "undergo renovations costing 50 percent or more of the building's value," reports ABC. 

 

According to one safety advocate in New York, this and subsequent state laws don't go far enough to protect the public. In an interview this week on ABC's "Good Morning America," Jerry DeLuca, executive director of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, said fire sprinklers must be required in all settings and homes. For years, he and others have championed for a sprinkler requirement for all New York homes, but the state's building code council has chosen not to adopt the model building code requirement for sprinklering new, one- and two-family homes when updating its building and fire codes. "Fire sprinklers absolutely save lives by giving people time to escape a fire," DeLuca, also a member of the New York Fire Sprinkler Initiative, told ABC. "They might not always put out the fire, but they allow residents time to escape."

 

The story's reporter also cited NFPA's statistic on sprinklers reducing the risk of dying in a fire by 80 percent.  

 

Always the vocal safety advocate, DeLuca is constantly championing for safer homes. Read the commentary he submitted to NFPA last year following two home fires in two days that killed eight people. Please join him by becoming a vocal advocate for sprinklers in your region. 

Phil Egan begins his commentary for the North Bay Nipissing News with this heartbreaking line: "On the cold, winter night that my 24-year-old sister Frances lay down to sleep, she never realized she had spent her last day on earth."

 

Living only a three-minute "run" from the nearest fire station, Frances did not survive a fire at her home, which had no working smoke alarms, states Egan. Since the 1984 fire, Egan has become a safety advocate; he explains the fire threats in new homes that weren't there at the time of his sister's fire; he underscores fast-burning, synthetic furnishings filling our homes; and he embraces the answer to lessening fire's damaging impact at home. 

 

"The statistics [on home fire sprinklers] are impressive," he states in his commentary. "According to NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, fires were kept from spreading beyond the room of origin 97 percent of the time when home sprinklers were present. These numbers represent a significant saving in lives and property." 

 

As for installation costs, he adds, "Well, it's certainly far less of a burden than the irreplaceable loss of Frances." 

 

Do you have a home fire story? Humanizing the impacts of home fires is a powerful way to convince decision makers to require home fire sprinklers. Join our many other Faces of Fire subjects and please share your story in the comments section or send us an email. 

On Saturday, May 19, you and others will get the chance to take collective action to help solve North America's home fire problem. Participating in Home Fire Sprinkler Day will send a powerful message to your local decision makers, residents, and the media that fire sprinklers in new homes should be embraced. Here are some tactics for taking action on this important day. (And don't forget to add your event to our map!)

 

  • Join forces. If your state or province has a fire sprinkler coalition, check with them to see if you
    can support their efforts. Visit the sprinkler coalitions page on the Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.
  • Alert the media. If hosting an event, customize and distribute one of our templated news releases to
    local media a week before the event. Follow up (preferably by phone) a day before the event
    with reporters and newsrooms and check if they can cover the event.
  • Create some buzz. Generate awareness of your event via social media. Use our customizable social
    media posts and images before and during the event. 
  • Smile for the camera! Take photos during the event, and share them with NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition so your efforts can be highlighted throughout North America. Send photos and a brief write-up of
    the event to FireSprinklerInitiative@nfpa.org.

 

There's still plenty of time to either plan an event or lend your support to an event in the works. Either way, please take some form of action on Saturday, May 19. Visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Day page for more information. 

A three-alarm, residential fire in January displaced Iowa residents, one of them being Jake Vanderslice. Seven weeks after the fire, a TV station checked in with him at the scene of the incident. He was finally able to enter the residence and witness the extent of the damage while grabbing some personal items. Since the fire, he's been living with family and friends. 

 

"I have a lot of water and smoke damage," he told a local ABC news affiliate. "Luckily I was able to get a lot of my personal and sentimental items."

 

Had fire sprinklers been inside his home, the outcome might have been different. West Des Moines Fire Marshal Mike Whitsell told another TV station that the residence lacked this technology. A growing metropolitan population, he says, may be to blame for a recent spat of fires in his town. "It just seems we're winning that lottery, so to speak. It's a lottery we don't want to win." 

 


If interacting with the media about a home fire, please make sure you're mentioning whether or not it had working smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers. Use our talking points document as a guide. 

Two surveys are shedding light on an apparent disconnect among the fire service and home developers. One of these surveys conducted for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) found that 55 percent of developers interviewed stated they are interested in incorporating fire sprinklers in their new homes if offered an incentive or trade up. However, only six percent were offered them. 

 

Moreover, a fire service survey found that the vast majority of respondents are from jurisdictions that do not offer sprinkler incentives. (Download our 14-page guide that includes information on these incentives.)

 

"These two surveys show there is interest from both developers and the fire service to pursue incentives," says Lorraine Carli, HFSC's president and NFPA vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. "With incentives, there is a great opportunity for the fire service to grow the use of home fire sprinklers in their communities. For developers, there are financial opportunities afforded by incentives. It's a win-win."

 

Read HFSC's story on the surveys and how fire sprinklers are a key component to community risk reduction. 

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