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Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletterThe new issue of Fire Sprinkler Initiative News, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter, features a campaign by Massachusetts fire officials and NFPA to protest the state's new building code which omits the provision to require home fire sprinklers in new construction.

We also look at a new report that focuses on fire fatalities and property loss in Pennsylvania homes, welcome sprinkler advocate Jeff Hudson to the NFPA staff, and dispel common myths about home fire sprinklers.

Subscribe today to automatically receive our monthly Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter. It's free, informative, and will keep you up to date on anti-sprinkler legislation, our advocacy efforts, and other sprinkler-related news.


Home fire sprinkler advocates are used to those against them twisting and turning facts to make the argument that sprinklers should not be required in new homes. They say they cost too much, they don't. A report by the Fire Protection Research Foundation found that the average cost of home fire sprinklers in a  communities with a requirement was $1.61 per sprinklered square foot. They say that sprinklers will stunt  home building. They don't. A comparison of housing starts in comparable communities saw no difference in the number of homes being built in communities that require sprinklers and communities that do not. They say they cause water damage. They do, but far less than the water damage caused by a fire hose!

So it was not surprise when Keith Grant of Keith and David Grant Homes touted as one of his priorities as the new president of the Tennessee Homebuilders Association to prevent fire sprinklers from being required. But what was surprising was his quote in the Memphis Daily News that said, "What’s been found across the country is the fire sprinklers don’t save lives..." He is wrong.

One of the most important arguments for fire sprinklers is simple -- sprinklers save lives. Here are some key facts and research reports that emphatically make that point.Additional information can be found through the Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

If you have a reported fire in your home, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present.

Bucks County PA -- There were 90 fire deaths in unsprinklered one- and two-family homes in Bucks County from1988-2010 (88%of all County fire deaths during that time frame), with no fire deaths occurring in sprinklered homes. Five fire incidents in sprinklered homes have been documented as saving at least five lives.

Prince Georges County MD -- From1992-2007, there were 101 fire deaths and 328 civilian injuries in single-family or townhouse fires that were not protected with fire sprinkler systems. No fire deaths occurred in sprinklered structure fires during the period studied, and there were six civilian injuries.

Scottsdale AZ --In the 15 years of the mandate, there were 598 home fires. Of the 598 home fires, 49 were in single-family homes with fire sprinkler systems. There were no deaths in sprinklered homes;13 people died in homes without sprinklers. The lives of 13 people who would have likely died without sprinklers, were saved.

Lorraine Carli

Firebreak November 2011 issueThe November issue of Fire Break, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter about wildland fires, is now available. Some of our great wildland fire news features include:

  • Highlights and a recap of the Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Denver
  • Information for landscape architects, designers and planners on growing a Firewise yard and garden
  • A link to the recent Firewise webinar presentation
  • The sobering news on the damage embers cause to homes during a wildfire
  • A call for members for three wildland fire technical committees

Sign up today! It's free, informative and will keep you up to date on the latest news and information on mitigating your wildfire risk to take back to your communities, organization or fire house.

Fourmile Canyon fire truck drives past a home destroyed by the Fourmile Canyon Fire west of Boulder, Colorado, on September 11, 2010. For a description of the burn patterns and building construction on the Fourmile Canyon Fire, see "Tour of the Fourmile Canyon Fire: Questions Raised, Answers Pending," a blog posting from June 27, 2011 on NFPA's Firewise website, 

The new issue of NFPA Journal features an article by Stephen G. Badger on the "Large-Loss Fires in the United States in 2010." The Fourmile Canyon Fire was the largest of the 17 large-loss fires that occurred in the United States last year. Large-loss fires and explosions are defined as incidents that cause at least $10 million in direct property loss.

Each year, NFPA reports on the previous year’s large-loss fires, tracking and verifying loss information reported in the media or by other sources. The 17 large-loss fires of 2010 are only those fires for which we obtained an official dollar loss. 

According to “Fire Loss in the United States During 2010” [September/October], U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,331,500 fires in 2010 that caused an estimated loss of $11.6 billion. Many of these fires were small or resulted in little or no reported property damage. However, the 17 that resulted in losses greater than $10 million each, caused a total of roughly $950 million in direct property losses. Although these fires accounted for only 0.001% of the estimated number of fires in 2010, they accounted for 5.6% of the total estimated dollar loss.

Read the NFPA Journal article detailing the report, more information on the 17 large-loss fires and their associated property damage

The number of home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day was three times the national average of fires per day in 2009, according to NFPA. 

“Thanksgiving can be a whirlwind of cooking and entertaining guests,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “With so much multitasking taking place, fire hazards around the oven or stovetop can easily be overlooked. Cooks should be conscious of fire safety this Thanksgiving whether the menu is meant to serve two or 20.”

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and related injuries. Learn more.

To reduce the risk of cooking fires this holiday, NFPA recommends the following safety tips: 

  • Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stovetop.
  • Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • When simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Stay alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire… 

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path (to your way out of the home and someone has called the fire department).
  • Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop.  Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.



Dan Doofus shows how to stay safe when cooking.

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