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The Browers

On May 25, 2008, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue (VA) responded to a single-family house fire in a residential development. Keith Brower, who was the fire marshal at the time, heard the mayday call that would change his life. As firefighters entered the structure, a fireball erupted. The fire quickly went to flashover, spreading rapidly through the open construction plan from the first-floor origin up into the second floor, trapping four firefighters.


“The fire actually burned through our firefighters’ hose line, severing it,” Brower said. Although the firefighters were rescued and all survived, one firefighter was burned severely enough to force retirement.


Within hours of the fire, Brower was part of an investigative team that was assembled to perform an After Action Report (AAR) to review the details of the fire and the actions of responders. The AAR produced more than 50 recommendations that were in progress or largely implemented during Chief Brower’s tenure as fire chief, which began in 2010. Among those were achieving staffing levels according to NFPA 1710 and pursuing building and fire prevention code changes at the state level.


For Chief Brower, who retired in 2018 and now makes his home in Beaufort, SC, this fire and its impact has endured as an emblem of today’s persistent home fire problem. “Early in my career, we had several minutes before a house fire flashed over,” he said. “But now a home fire becomes deadly in only two minutes or less.” 


According to NFPA, today’s modern home furnishings, popular open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction contribute to an increased rate at which home fires burn, causing this significant reduction in the time occupants now have to safely escape.


“The danger isn’t only to occupants when homes aren’t sprinklered; responders are at grave risk from suppression injuries as well as increased health risks from exposure,” Chief Brower adds. “That’s one of the reasons we made the decision to retrofit our house with fire sprinklers. I wanted peace of mind for my family as well as for firefighters, should they ever have to respond to a fire at our home.”


The Browers began their retrofit project in 2019. The company they worked with assessed the single-story home and determined a NFPA 13D system was feasible. Although the home is on public water, the Browers opted to supply their system with a water tank and pump. The plans were reviewed and approved by the local building code office. The local inspector witnessed the pressure test and issued final approval.


“It feels good to be protected,” Chief Brower said. “Retrofitting is certainly not the easiest way to install home fire sprinklers, but our house shows that it can be done.” Determined to illustrate this fact, Chief Brower posted regular updates on the retrofit on social media. “The feedback I’ve had from others in the fire service is extremely positive. I hope our experience will be an inspiration for others.”


Brower will tell the story of retrofitting his home with fire sprinklers on episode 4 of The NFPA Podcast, "Dispelling Home Fire Sprinkler Myths," which comes out on July 28."


Learn more about Chief Brower's experience by visiting NFPA's Faces of Fire campaign to hear his interview.


Interested in retrofitting your home? HFSC offers free information and resources on home fire sprinkler retrofitting. 


For more on home fire sprinklers, visit NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative webpage.


Photo Caption: Chief W. Keith Brower, Jr. (Retired) is a contributor to the NFPA Faces of Fire campaign and an instructor with the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He represents the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation on the Vision 20/20 Steering Committee. He and his wife, Cheryl, live in a sprinklered home in Beaufort, SC. 


Home fire sprinklers have been proven as the best protection available to minimize home fire injury and death for both civilians and responding firefighters.

For more than a decade, the NFPA and International Code Council model national codes have included requirements to install fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes. But that important progress has been stymied by national homebuilder and real estate groups that have waged an unprecedented campaign at every level to stop home fire sprinkler codes. 

Fortunately, there are ways to introduce home fire sprinklers into new homes. In a recent NFPA Journal article, “The Incentive Option,” Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA and president of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, discusses how planners and AHJs are engaging homebuilders with an array of creative incentives to encourage the installation of this life-saving measure.

Read the article.

For more information and resources related to home fire sprinklers, please visit the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative webpage.

As the world continues to deal with the ongoing demands of COVID-19, and with the fire service at its front lines, NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) needed to reconsider what Home Fire Sprinkler Week would look like in light of public educational events being nearly impossible to hold.


The result was Home Fire Sprinkler Week Virtual, an online campaign that provided digital resources, information, and tools for participants in place of in-person activities. During the week of May 17-23, people were able to share daily themes and suggested video and educational content with their audiences on their website and social platforms.home fire sprinkler week


As part of the virtual event, NFPA and HFSC partnered with Firehouse Magazine to present a Facebook Live event that featured a handful of guest speakers and showcased a live burn demonstration. The event drew roughly 9,000 viewers! Throughout the week-long event, nearly 3,000 visitors took advantage of the resources on the HFSC website, and more than 25,000 people viewed the information on the HFSC’s Facebook page.


The intent of this year’s virtual event was to garner as much if not more attention than we have the last couple of years with Home Fire Sprinkler Week. And we did just that. Thousands of followers shared their support and used our resources to increase awareness of the problem of home fires and to build interest in life-saving home fire sprinklers.


If you were one of the many people who participated in this year’s virtual event, thank you! If you weren’t able to join us, you can still find all of the information, including the Facebook Live event video, on the HFSC website.


For additional information about home fire sprinklers, please visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website.


Fires in the home pose one of the biggest threats to a community. In 2018, US fire departments responded to an estimated 1,318,500 fires. These fires caused 3,655 civilian deaths, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year. Of those deaths, roughly 73 percent occurred in the home, the very place people feel most safe.Sprinklers


All national safety model codes include fire sprinklers as a minimum safety requirement for new home construction. Homes built without sprinklers lack a crucial element of fire protection. Because sprinklers have been around for so long, the evidence is clear that they are a proven way to protect lives and property against fires at home— responding quickly and effectively to the presence of a nearby fire, and requiring minimal maintenance by homeowners.


Did you know:

  • In 2018, there was a civilian fire death every 2 hours and 24 minutes in the United States
  • The risk of dying in a reported home fire is 85 percent lower where sprinklers are present.
  • The cost of installation averages $1.35 per sprinklered square foot for new construction.


A new fact sheet from NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition breaks down this and other important information about home fire sprinklers by addressing myths often raised by sprinkler opponents.


Download the fact sheet and help spread the facts about the life-saving measures of home fire sprinkler systems.

For more information, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative webpage



New homes today are often built with unprotected lightweight construction and filled with lots of synthetic materials that burn hotter and faster than older homes. According to fire safety experts, we can have as little as two minutes to escape a home fire compared to eight to 10 minutes in previous decades. Armed with important facts about the benefits and true, affordable costs of sprinklers, advocates all around the world continue to educate others on this life saving measure.


So why aren’t fire protection systems more widely accepted and used? More often than not, builders, homeowners, and building managers are influenced by misconceptions that fire sprinklers are not essential, they are too expensive, or they’re not reliable.


A recent article in International Fire Protection magazine addresses eight common misconceptions about sprinkler systems. From the myths that address that fire sprinklers are “bad investments” (and smoke alarms are enough), to water usage, cost, and much more, the article does a great job of tackling the obstacles that can often keep conversations and actions from advancing to the next level.


By working together to continually dispel these and other misconceptions about fire sprinklers we can push the message forward about just how crucial these systems are in protecting lives and property in a fire.  


Learn more by visiting the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative webpage.

During the National Fire Sprinkler Association Virtual Annual Seminar and Business & Leadership Conference in April 2020, NFPA President and CEO, Jim Pauley spoke about the role fire sprinkler advocacy plays in the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, and how supporters can ensure the Ecosystem around home fire safety remains intact

Based on questions he has received from NFSA members, President Pauley addressed such things as the roles and responsibilities of sprinkler advocates, the impact educators have on safety, and how we can all work together to find solutions to the fire problem. Watch his presentation below:

NFPA provides additional information, too, about the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem and free tools available for download, including:

  • The new 2019 Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem: Year in Review report
  • A link to the “Ecosystem Watch” page in NFPA Journal
  • An animated video, “About the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem”
  • A Fire & Life Safety PowerPoint deck for presentations
  • A Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem fact sheet

Please find find all of these resources and more by visiting the Ecosystem webpage at

For the video and information related to fire sprinklers, visit

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