In a letter to the editor published today on Capegazette.com, Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition chairman, Paul Eichler, addressed the conversation about home fire sprinklers that is taking place in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. On behalf of the Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters' Association (DVFA) Fire Sprinkler Committee, Paul Eichler voiced support for the commissioners' review of the residential building codes. He also strongly encouraged that the commissioners leave the home fire sprinkler requirements intact.
“The requirement was part of the 2012 code adopted by the city,” read an earlier editorial, “but commissioners opted to exempt that requirement from the code at that time.”
Fire and life safety were among the many benefits of requiring sprinklers that Paul outlined in his letter. Here are some of the key points he shared:
-Residential fire sprinklers will protect many people and significantly reduce property damages. Certainly, the homeowners, any tenants, their pets, and their possessions will be protected by the 24-hour coverage. When a property is protected by a fire sprinkler system, fires are kept to the room of origin 97 percent of the time, and sprinklers use 90 percent less water than what is flowed by a firefighter’s hose.
-First responders are protected due to responding to less severe conditions. Neighbors are protected since an interior fire will be held in check and not extend to neighboring properties.
-Insurance claims will be considerably lower, as well as the aspect that the affected occupants will most likely be able to stay in the same occupancy after the fire instead of being displaced for months.
The article also briefly mentions concerns raised about cost. According to a report by The Fire Protection Research Foundation the cost is, on average, $1.35 per sprinklered square foot - an amount that is similar to what people pay for carpet upgrades, whirlpool baths, or granite countertops.
You can read Paul Eichler’s full letter here and learn more about the Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition by visiting its website.
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The Phoenix Society Fellows for the 2019 Year
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If you were thumbing through your social media feeds over the last few days, you might have seen it: with a little humor and a great hat, Richard Trethewey from This Old House demonstrated how sprinklers work in a video that was posted on the show’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.
All lightheartedness aside, in the minute-long clip, Richard, This Old House’s plumbing and heating expert, addresses some of the common misconceptions about residential sprinklers. With more than 93,000 views on Facebook alone, the clip reached many of the show's fans. “Thank you for showing the truth about sprinklers in the home,” commented one viewer.
Check out Richard's demonstration video on Facebook:
The social media cards from The Fire Sprinkler Initiative (FSI) and The Truth About Home Fire Sprinklers from FSI and The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition are two additional resources you can share with your audiences to provide education about residential sprinklers. The topics covered include sprinklers vs. smoke alarms, the cost of sprinklers, and sprinkler water usage.
The third annual Fire Safety and Carbon Monoxide Awareness and Prevention Summit was held this week in Lebanon, NH. The summit brought together fire and life safety professionals in New Hampshire and Vermont to explore ways to prevent deaths and injuries in the bi-state region.
As attendees watched the live demo, Michael Young, New England Regional Manager for the National Fire Sprinkler Association explained, “We used to tell people three to five minutes to get out of a house. Now it’s down to about one to two minutes.”
Today's home fires burn faster than ever in part due to the synthetic materials that are often used in modern home furnishings. These synthetic materials are “solid gasoline,” said New Hampshire State Fire Marshal Paul Parisi.
The NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative’s popular PowerPoint presentation helps underscore today’s home fire dangers and demonstrate the life-and-property-saving value of sprinklers. The presentation can be a great tool to use in your education efforts.
This past week NFPA President Jim Pauley spoke to attendees at Hawks Cay 2019, a Florida Fire Sprinkler Association conference held in the Florida Keys. Jim shared a different way to think about safety.
Reflecting on past catastrophes including the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, and the explosion at a chemical plant in Yancheng, China, Jim shared, "These tragic, telling incidents, and so many more, are exactly what is on my mind and outlines our single biggest challenge: why can't we seem to find the elements to get safety right?"
"Everyone is focused on their particular piece that we have forgotten that safety is a system - not a singular action, piece of equipment or event," he continued.
Jim continued, “Time after time when we have seen calamities, we can trace the cause of those situations to a breakdown in one or more of the elements of this ecosystem.”
After explaining the eight components that make up the ecosystem, Jim Pauley issued a challenge to the audience:
“Which part of this ecosystem needs your attention? One, two, three, all of them? Change how you are talking about safety," he shared, "What are you going to do in fire protection? What are you going to do in terms of code enforcement? How can you influence policymakers? What can the build community do better? How can the fire service collaborate with other influencers to reduce risk? How can we educate the public about taking responsibility?"
Here are some steps to guide your assessment:
-Create a discussion group for each component.
-Determine where the gaps are.
-Prioritize which ones need to be addressed first.
-Then create an action plan you can work on, over time, to fill the gaps and ensure the ecosystem remains intact.
"It's a strategic way to approach to what all of you love to do - keep people and property safe," Jim concluded.
When things go well - and when they don't: In Ecosystem Watch, the NFPA Journal team has highlighted recent news events and research findings as examples of successes or failures in the context of the Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem.
The Rawlins Fire Department in Rawlins, Wyoming hosted a side-by-side burn to promote home fire sprinklers and the impact was clear. As fire ravaged the unsprinklered room, "bystanders dumbstruck by the spectacular sight" as Rawlins' longtime fire chief John Rutherford narrated the "controlled catastrophe" reported Rawlins Times.com.
For the second part of the demonstration, the outcome was much different thanks to sprinklers. Even a stuffed monkey, which was placed on a small table survived the fire without a scratch.
If the demonstration wasn't enough, the chief then drew attention to the Carnes family who was in the crowd at the event. They have been displaced from their home for nearly four months, following a fire that was believed to have been caused by a "shoddy lightbulb."
From the outside, Michelle Carnes, explained you wouldn't know the devastation had occurred. "But, inside the house," she said, "It’s a complete loss."
John Carnes said sprinklers would have made a difference; had sprinklers been installed he said that the property damage could have been in the $500 ballpark as opposed to "$200,000."
A sprinkler system "would've prevented 98% of the damage," said Michelle.
In the City of Rawlins, residential structures are not required to have sprinkler systems.
The activation of a sprinkler extinguished a fire and saved about 800 people in a Tysons, Virginia apartment building on September 22, according to a recent local news report. Damages were estimated to be $650.
In another fire that took place in the state one week prior resulted in a different outcome: a mother, father, and 10-year-old son lost their lives in a fire at their home in Virginia’s Buckingham County.
Photo Credit: Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition
The same day as the tragic fire, the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development rejected a proposal to implement the model code provision making sprinklers mandatory in new townhomes and single-family homes, reported WAMU. The same article reported that Home Builders Association of Virginia celebrated the vote, “saying that requiring sprinklers would only throw another obstacle in the way of the new housing construction that is needed to help close what officials say is a 75,000-home gap between what’s currently expected to be built across the region and what’s actually needed to keep pace with estimated job growth.”
The board’s decision - and these social media posts from the Association - drew public outcry from members of the fire service from across the country.
Chief Keith Johnson of the Loudon County Combined Fire-Rescue System, who serves on the Board of Housing and Community Development representing the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association supporting the proposal, and Fairfax County Fire Chief John S. Butler vocalized their dissatisfaction and vocalized that the decision is a huge safety concern.
Photo Credit: Twitter
Keith Brower, a retired Loudon County, VA fire chief, tweeted that the average cost of home fire sprinklers is “no where near this quote,” and put the cost at $1.61 per square foot in the state. A report commissioned by the Fire Protection Research Foundation places the average national cost at $1.35 per sprinklered square foot or about one percent of the total construction cost.
As the backlash grew, the Home Builders Association deleted their posts about the decision.
Delaware Fire Coalition Chair Paul Eichler was recently interviewed on Delmarva Life, a local TV program. As part of the conversation, the Coalition Chair provided education about home fire sprinklers and dispelled some of the common myths about them. Among the misconceptions discussed, he debunked the myth that home fire sprinklers leak "all over the place" and that the water they use will create more damage than a fire. Watch the full interview here:
Also on display during the interview was the sprinkler prop kit, a free tool that is available from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Nice job Paul Eichler!
The Park Ridge Fire Department responded to an alarm at the Park Ridge Pointe community in Park Ridge, Illinois on September 6. After entering, crews discovered a fire had started in a bathroom in one of the condo units.
“The fire sprinkler system had activated (only one sprinkler head) and had prevented the fire from spreading throughout the structure,” Park Ridge Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen said in a press release, “Most importantly, no residents or fire personnel were injured.”
Chief Sorensen also cited how sprinklers can help reduce the resources needed to respond to a fire. “While fire sprinklers are designed with life safety in mind, they typically use a fraction of the water that fire hoses do to contain a fire,” Sorensen said in the release.
Learn about the 2020 dates for Home Fire Sprinkler Week as well as information on how you can get involved.
Find an all-encompassing article about home fire sprinklers that provides vital information to share with stakeholders.
Discover social media cards to use in your sprinkler advocacy efforts.
Get insights into commonly asked questions about 13D.
NFPA issues this free, monthly newsletter on its nationwide effort to increase the use of home fire sprinklers through the adoption of sprinkler requirements. Sign up for our Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter to start receiving it directly to your inbox.
It was with heavy hearts that four siblings, ages nine months to eight years old, were laid to rest over the weekend. The children were four out of the five that were killed in a home daycare fire in Erie, Pennsylvania. The fifth child, a two-year-old boy, will be laid to rest today.
The cause of the fire is being investigated; it is believed to have started by an overloaded extension cord in the home’s living room. Erie Chief Fire Inspector John Widomskisaid he suspected the intensity of the fire, which melted the siding on the front of the house and damaged two homes next door, was made worse by furniture in the living room. Officials reported that the house only had one smoke detector, in the attic.
In the wake of the fire, Fire Chief Brian Enterline of Harrisburg, PA called for lawmakers to pass legislation that would require sprinklers in all new homes. Enterline cited that Pennsylvania has the third most fire deaths in the country.
Ironically, beginning January 1, 2011, Pennsylvania lawmakers mandated the installation of sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes. However, with pressure from home builders, that mandate was repealed in April of that same year. Since 2011, there have been nearly 143,000 single-family housing starts in the state.
When it comes to home fire sprinklers, misinformation about these life-and-property-saving systems continues to persist. Many who unfamiliar with the technology think that sprinklers are too expensive and that they will activate for no reason. They also often believe that in the event of a fire, the sprinklers will cause more damage than the fire itself.
In an all-encompassing article on Forbes.com writer Sheri Koones refutes these claims and explains why home fire sprinklers should be a requirement in all homes.
Today’s post was written by guest contributor, Peg Paul, Communications Manager at the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition:
Home fire sprinklers are a proven, long-term solution to the home fire problem. But the fire service often faces many challenges when working to protect new housing stock. In jurisdictions that do not have codes that require fire sprinklers in new construction, the fire service is taking a different path to improve community risk reduction. Fire departments from Washington State to New England are using home fire sprinkler incentives (sometimes called trade-ups) as valuable motivation to install NFPA 13D systems in new-home developments.
Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) are finding that developers and big builders who balk at sprinkler code discussions are all ears when offered financial benefits in exchange for installation. The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) has published a series of case studies on its website that summarize these successful AHJ-led efforts. The incentives are wide ranging, from bottom-line benefits like increased hydrant spacing, allowing higher density resulting in additional units, to infrastructure cost-savings, such as allowing reduced street width.
AHJs successfully negotiated with a developer in Camas, Washington.
Read their stories to learn how these AHJs found common ground with local builders and how you might do the same through your coalition.