The small community of Spryfield within Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada was overcome by sorrow last month when a usual day turned tragic as seven children died in a fatal home fire in what news reports described as a relatively new home.
In its aftermath, fire officials and local media pointed to the value of home fire sprinklers and called for their use to prevent future tragedies like this one.
Len Garis, who has been chief of the Surrey Fire Department in British Columbia for two decades, told The Chronicle Herald “The fire in its early stages would never have left whatever room it started in had a sprinkler system been operating in that structure, and I can say that with absolutely 100 percent confidence.” There are more than 30 municipalities in British Columbia that require sprinklers in all new homes.
According to National Fire Protection Association research, when sprinklers are present, flame damage is confined to the room of origin in 97 percent of fires, compared to 74 percent of fires in homes without sprinklers. Also, the civilian fire death rate is 87 percent lower in properties with sprinklers than in properties with no sprinklers.
“How many more people must die before Nova Scotia’s provincial and municipal elected officials take steps to make mandatory the installation of sprinklers in all new homes?,” said Peter Simpson, firefighter, to The Chronicle Herald.
The Chronicle Herald then weighed in with an opinion piece calling on Nova Scotia to follow the lead of the 30-plus British Columbia municipalities and the states of California and Maryland in making home fire sprinklers mandatory in new homes. Taking on the cost argument, they wrote, “The automobile industry once argued installing seatbelts would makes vehicles unaffordable. In the end, safety and common sense won out.”
The escalation of the fire can be seen in a unique video captured by a doorbell camera across from where the fire took place.
More information on making the case for sprinklers is available through NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative and Home Fire Sprinkler Canada. For regular updates, sign up for the Fire Sprinkler Newsletter.