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Residential fire sprinklers have been spotlighted twice in a week's span, thanks to two news outlets promoting two activations on opposite sides of the U.S. 

 

The first occurred on September 19 in Abingdon, Maryland. According to a news report by The Baltimore Sun, a grandmother who shared the home with three other family members was home alone when she began hearing strange sounds. Upon investigating the noise, she discovered smoke coming from the second floor. A fire had originated in a bedroom, and fire sprinklers contained the fire to that room. 

 

"Deputy state fire marshals credit the fire sprinkler for containing the fire and allowing [the resident] to safely escape," states the story. "Fire sprinklers also help firefighters by containing the fire to the area of origin, reducing the chance of injuries and/or death."

 

Two days later, another residential fire occurred, this time in Portland, Oregon. By the time Portland Fire and Rescue arrived at the scene, they discovered that the residence's fire sprinklers had extinguished the fire. Thanks to the fire sprinklers, there was minimal damage, mainly to the fire's room of origin, stated KATU.

 

Many thanks to the fire service officials who alerted the media to these activations, and for these news outlets for sharing it with the public. If a fire sprinkler activates in your area, please alert the media.

Tip of the hat to Paul Eichler, chair of the Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition, for setting the record straight on home fire sprinklers. Following a letter to the editor in which Eichler promoted the importance of fire sprinkler requirements, a reader responded with less-than-flattering statements about requiring this technology. 

 

The reader questioned sprinkler installation costs and doubted the necessity of these systems. "I lived in dormitories and apartments for years, none of them ever burned down," she stated. "The only fires I knew of were from careless smoking, cooking and unattended irons. The fire alarms were adequate for rousing even the deepest sleepers," she stated. 

 

The reader continued: "You'd make more headway in this ridiculous campaign by lobbying the insurance companies. Nothing gets done in this country without their blessing."

 

In a response Eichler shared with NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative (which the news outlet will hopefully pick up), he quickly addresses installation cost. "[That] is an area that the Coalition is also concerned about and is addressing. Fortunately here in Delaware, two avenues to address these costs indirectly are developing. Impact fees for development and construction have been reduced, thus making new construction purchases more affordable. Also, the Coalition was kindly hosted recently by representatives of the Delaware Department of Insurance to discuss the availability of discounts to home purchasers on their home owners’ policy if sprinklers are present."

 

 

Eichler also pointed to sprinkler ordinances that data proves have been successful, particularly in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

 

Please read Eichler's full response, which is attached to this blog post. And please follow his lead; if you see or hear comments that appear anti-sprinkler, please set the record straight and share your thoughts with the media and us. 

 

Every day seven people die from American home fires, and another 13,000 are injured each year. These statistics, while important, are only a small piece of America's complex home fire problem.

 

There are ripple effects to fire that the statistics don’t explain and the nightly news rarely covers. Once a home’s flames have been extinguished and TV reporters have turned their gaze elsewhere, there are real people left in a fire’s wake. Who are these people? What is their new normal, now that their lives have been forever transitioned by tragedy? We are about to give you a powerful look at the lingering effects of fire in America.

 

The National Fire Protection Association and Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors presents The Survivors, a multi-part podcast series that takes an extensive look at Wyoming resident Feike van Dijk, his wife Noelle, and their family. In 2014, they experienced the unthinkable when a home fire killed two of their children. The podcast showcases the lifelong toll fire has taken on this family and the people responsible for burn treatment and recovery in America. Weaving in perspectives from the fire service and America’s top safety advocates, this series showcases why Feike’s experience isn’t an anomaly. You’ll also learn about a proven technology that can significantly reduce fire death and injury at home, and the powerful forces spending millions of dollars to keep it out of there. Listen to the podcast's powerful teaser trailer  and subscribe to this upcoming podcast by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.  

Stephan Cox (left) and Richard Smith with the Maryland State Firemen's Association accept the 2016 Bringing Safety Home Award from Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Outreach and Advocacy and president of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

 

Do you know someone with a passion for home fire safety? Are they huge proponents for home fire sprinklers? If so, there's an award for that. 

 

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) and NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative are teaming up to recognize outstanding local efforts by an advocate who diligently promotes the importance of home fire sprinklers. The 2017 Bringing Safety Home Award honors members of the fire service and other sprinkler advocates who use HFSC and Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources as a key component in educating decision makers on fire sprinklers and convincing them to support sprinkler requirements at the local, state, or provincial level. While recognizing the recipient to our North American audiences, he or she will be honored at NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative Summit, November 13-14, in Quincy, Massachusetts. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging expenses for the trip. For previous award recipients, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website.


Please download the competed form attached to this blog post and email to firesprinklerinitiative@nfpa.org by no later than October 2, 2017. 

Introducing a new forum aimed at connecting you with other fire sprinkler advocates across North America. You may already be aware of this site, NFPA Xchange, our online community that houses this blog and an assortment of information for safety advocates. New to Xchange is our public education forum, a place where you can now connect with your peers! You’ll have the ability to initiate discussions via this forum, connect with others, and share lessons learned (or struggles) you have experienced during your fire sprinkler advocacy efforts. NFPA will be generating some discussion topics, but the forum’s intent is for you to have your voice heard while hopefully learning something new in the process.

 

Please bookmark the forum’s page today and check it often. Start a discussion. Read some of the posts. Highlight a sprinkler event happening in your area. Share information about an event.   

 

New to Xchange? Simply sign up for free by clicking the “Log in” link at the upper right hand portion of this page. And please let us know your thoughts on the new forum. 

If you've come to love the free resources produced by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), here's some good news: the nonprofit recently secured a grant aimed at making a bigger dent in North America's home fire problem. 

 

HFSC received a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant via the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grant, totaled at more than $550,000, will help fund a national education program aimed at increasing sprinkler installations in new homes. HFSC will link designated fire departments and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) with homebuilders, developers, and planning/zoning boards in more than 100 markets. The fire service and AHJs will be equipped with resources to communicate the need for fire sprinklers in new home developments planned by developers and considered by local boards. Trade-ups, incentives offered by local officials in exchange for installing fire sprinklers, are the centerpiece of this new program. 


“Although trade-ups are working well in some jurisdictions, the concept is still new to most fire departments and AHJs,” says Lorraine Carli, HFSC's president and NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “Our program will educate about the value of using trade-ups to achieve community risk reduction. We will supply free resources that fire departments can use in any community to improve awareness and increase sprinkler installation.”

 

HFSC already has an array of resources catered to different audiences, including the fire service, water purveyors, homebuilders, and the general public.

Solving the Home Fire Problem: Five Steps to Better Advocate for Home Fire Sprinklers


Thursday, September 21, 12:30-1:30 pm ET


Every year, the majority of North America's fire deaths happen at home. The solution to this problem - the home fire sprinkler - exists. However, many states face intense opposition for fire sprinklers, despite this technology being a model building code requirement. As a fire sprinkler advocate, you can be a powerful voice for this life-saving technology. This webinar will demonstrate (in five easy steps) how attendees can participate in a growing grassroots movement across North America in support of this technology. By better understanding the power of advocacy and linking up with like-minded advocates in their region, attendees can better promote fire sprinklers, counter sprinkler opponents, and underscore a technology designed to save lives. 

 

Register today for this free webinar! 

In case you missed it, Alabama's governor recently signed into law a bill allowing plumbers to install home fire sprinklers. Granting this group access in Alabama and elsewhere has initiated discussions on who should be permitted to perform these installations. 

 

Addressing this issue in the latest edition of NFPA Journal is Matt Klaus, NFPA technical services lead for fire protection engineering. Klaus notes that NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes, leaves it to the authorities having jurisdiction to decide licensing requirements and who is permitted to install fire sprinklers. 

 

Here is an excerpt of Klaus' column: 

 

Ultimately, there are two different schools of thought on this issue. The first is that, because many states only permit licensed sprinkler contractors to install systems designed to NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, or NFPA 13R, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies, this concept should be applied to NFPA 13D as well. The other side of the argument is that plumbers, who are already on-site installing domestic systems, should also be permitted to install NFPA 13D systems.

 

The idea of allowing plumbers to install NFPA 13D systems is based on a few principles that have been discussed by the technical committee for residential sprinkler systems.

 

The first is the simplicity of the NFPA 13D system when compared to larger commercial systems. Sprinkler systems designed and installed to NFPA 13 can be fairly complex and employ system components or installation practices that are unique to fire sprinkler systems. NFPA 13D systems, by comparison, are rather simple. NFPA 13D contains few requirements for system attachments beyond a control valve, piping, a drain connection, and the sprinkler itself.

 

Another reason why plumbers are often deemed qualified to install these systems is their familiarity with the material used in home sprinkler systems. Unlike NFPA 13 and NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D permits the use of copper and polyethylene PEX tubing to be used throughout the system. These materials, along with CPVC, which is used in all three types of sprinkler systems, are used on a daily basis by many plumbers for supplying domestic fixtures. The plumbers’ general familiarity with these materials and their joining methods can create efficiencies in the installation.

 

Those efficiencies lead to the final argument for allowing plumbers to install the systems: cost.

 

Visit the NFPA Journal site and read Klaus' full column. Also, let us know your thoughts on this discussion by replying directly to this post. 

We've always said that fire service members can be some of the best voices in support of home fire sprinklers. Here's proof. 

 

The Chilliwack Fire Department in British Columbia publicly praised a fire sprinkler activation. A fire that initiated on a stovetop was quickly extinguished by the time firefighters arrived on the scene. "Early control and suppression of the fire by the sprinkler system significantly limited damage to a small area around the stove and kitchen cabinets," Assistant Fire Chief Chris Wilson told the media. "Without a working sprinkler system in place, this fire had the potential to cause extensive fire, smoke, and water damage."


Across the border in Wisconsin, another fire official took a stance on sprinklers following recent news there that officials have scaled back a state sprinkler law. Fire safety should be a concern for everyone, Jeff Murphy, division chief for the La Crosse, Wisconsin, Fire Department, told an ABC news station. "The fire that we have today in the buildings that are constructed today are made of lightweight construction, meaning that they burn a lot quicker," he said. "A fire in a home that's 50 years old, by the time we get there, we have quite of bit of working time yet."

 

If you're a member of the fire service and need help promoting this technology, we're here to help. Visit the "take action" page on NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site. 

Damages following Hurricane Harvey could reach $180 billion, per a recent article by Reuters. Before rebuilding begins, people are weighing in on how it should be done. The conversation is part of a larger, national debate on the necessity of building codes amid fire and environmental hazards. 

 

Texas, specifically, has "one of the most relaxed approaches to building codes, inspections, and other protections," states an article by Bloomberg, adding that it's one of four states near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts without a statewide building code. As for fire sprinkler requirements, the state cannot enforce local sprinkler provisions in new homes unless an ordinance was in place before 2009, according to NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative. Currently promoting this technology with an overall intent of passing a fire sprinkler requirement is the Texas Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

 

Making sure fire sprinkler requirements stay off the books is the Texas Association of Builders. According to the Bloomberg article, this group "boasted" about killing legislation last year that would have given local jurisdictions the authority to create their own fire sprinkler laws. The association also fought other building code proposals it deemed "onerous." 

 

However, constructing in accordance to model building codes in a post-Harvey Houston could put safety on display. Creating safer homes, particularly those equipped with fire sprinklers, can serve as a lesson in fire risk reduction. "Disasters don't have to be devastating," Eleanor Kitzman, former Texas state insurance commissioner, told Bloomberg. "We can't prevent the event, but we can mitigate the damage."

 

Read the complete Bloomberg article for more information. 

Here are the highlights from NFPA's recently released Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter:

 

• the link between firefighter cancer and the new home environment
• new data from us proving (once again) that fire sprinklers save lives
• commentary tying a sprinkler save in Washington, D.C., to one state’s decision to nix a fire sprinkler law

 

Please remember to take a few seconds and register for this monthly publication, which is delivered right to your inbox. The newsletter promises to alert you to new fire sprinkler advocacy resources and important news from across North America.  

NFPA, the American Red Cross, Vision 20/20, and a team of other safety experts and organizations recently convened in Connecticut for a conference aimed at saving lives. The Fire and Life Safety Educator Conference discussed disseminating effective fire safety messaging, a smoke alarm installation program enacted by the Red Cross, and the power of home fire sprinklers. 

 

During the event, Tim Travers, an NFPA fire sprinkler specialist, and Keith Flood, chair of the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition, were both on hand to discuss this technology via a live burn/fire sprinkler demonstration. They attracted the attention of Connecticut State Representative Jeff Currey, who inquired about the value of home fire sprinklers. He was curious about cost and the groups opposed to mandatory fire sprinkler requirements. Currey was also taken aback by the speed of the fire's flashover. 

 

Another Connecticut resident recently learned the benefits of home fire sprinklers. Watch our interview with builder John Dempsey:  

 

 

 

 

Free Webinar: Solving the Home Fire Problem--Five Steps to Better Advocate for Home Fire Sprinklers

 

Thursday, Sept. 21, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EST

 

Every year, the majority of North America's fire deaths happen at home. The solution to this problem - the home fire sprinkler - exists. However, many regions face intense opposition for fire sprinklers, despite this technology being a model building code requirement. As a safety advocate, you can be a powerful voice in support of this technology. This webinar will demonstrate (in five easy steps) how attendees can participate in a growing grassroots movement across North America in support of this technology. By better understanding the power of advocacy and linking up with like-minded advocates in their region, attendees can better promote fire sprinklers, counter sprinkler opponents, and underscore a technology designed to save lives. 

 

Register for this free webinar today! 

A new study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) emphasizes the likelihood of either dying or getting injured in home fires based on certain age groups. 

 

The study "Identifying vulnerable populations to death and injures from residential fires," determined that home fire deaths are more likely among frail populations, or what researchers have identified as people age 65 and older and not in robust health. Adults between the ages of 20 and 49 are more likely to acquire nonfatal injuries during home fires. Published this month in the research journal Injury Prevention, the study used data over a five-year period from the U.S. Census, the National Fire Incident Reporting System, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

 

NFPA's research also confirms that older adults are at high risk of dying in fire. According to its "Characteristics of Home Fire Victims" report, 30 percent of all home fire fatalities were at least 65 years old, even though this group represents only 13 percent of the U.S. population. 

 

"Our findings indicate that frailty, especially in elderly populations, hinders the ability to escape and should be recognized as a key factor in home fire deaths," stated NIST economist Stanley Gilbert, one of the study's authors. "Therefore, measures to overcome this population-specific vulnerability, such as automatic sprinklers in bedrooms, may help reduce the number of fatalities." 

 

Brush up on all the research underscoring today's home fires and fire sprinkler effectiveness by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative site.

Here a quick reminder about two resources recently produced by NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative: 

 

  •  Filled with our most popular downloads for sprinkler advocacy, this toolkit includes an eye-catching infographic, PowerPoint presentation underscoring the fire concerns of modern homes, a video clip humanizing the aftermath of home fires, fact sheets, and more.
  • A PowerPoint presentation that's customizable and includes information on fire sprinkler performance, sprinkler laws, research supporting this technology, and idea for bolstering sprinkler advocacy in your region.

 

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