Don Jolley, fire chief for the City of Pitt Meadows in British Columbia and the first vice president of the Fire Chiefs' Association of British Columbia, offered a unique perspective to Firefighting in Canada.
"Why ... has the fire service not completely endorsed, advocated for, and demanded at the highest level the inclusion of fire sprinklers in every home, everywhere?" he asks in his commentary. "I have heard, even recently, chief officers and prevention staff telling me that they do not fully support residential fire sprinklers. 'They fail too often.' 'We need to go anyways so why waste people’s money?' 'They take away from what firefighters do.'
"Given actual structural fires are likely less than five percent of our total call volumes, the argument is abundantly clear that fire sprinklers will not reduce staffing levels. There are far too many other important roles."
Jolley adds that fire sprinkler naysayers have been inadvertently promoting the need for home fire sprinklers. "Overtly they are stating to elected officials and the public that speed is everything," he states. "Subliminally, though, they are validating for fire sprinklers in a strong manner. There will never be a quicker response than a fire sprinkler head activating in response to a fire in the incipient, or other early stages.
"As a fire service ... we all need to set aside bias and tradition and recognize the future. Fire sprinklers, and their future iterations, are the leading edge in fire safety. There simply is no other consideration that could be even close to equivalent, and it is time that every firefighter, inspector, and officer at all levels recognize this and live up to their sworn oath to protect."
Take a stand for home fire sprinkler requirements by using these free advocacy resources from NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative.