New Paltz, New York, a small town in the southeastern part of the state with about 14,000 people, took a giant step forward to better protect their community from fire last month by requiring fire sprinklers in all new residential construction.
Mayor Tim Rogers was quoted in the Daily Freeman as saying, “The belief is that if there are sprinklers in homes ... then people will have a better chance of surviving [fires].” He further stated, “It’s a pretty straightforward law, where any new [residential] construction, regardless of the size ... has to put the sprinklers in,” Rogers said. “The studies show that’s incredibly important for property and safety and saving lives. It makes common sense when you have a volunteer fire department, too.”
The community clearly understands the changing dynamics of fire today and the fact that new homes, often built with unprotected lightweight construction and filled with lots of synthetic materials burn hotter and faster than older homes. According to fire safety experts, you can have as little as two minutes to escape a home fire compared to eight to ten minutes ago in previous decades.
NFPA, as part of its Fire Sprinkler Initiative, has developed a number of resources to help communities successfully make the case for home fire sprinklers.