Massachusetts fire makes the case for home fire sprinklers as board contemplates action

Blog Post created by mikehazell Employee on Jan 11, 2012

Couch & Xmas Tree
A single sprinkler extinguished a fire, proving their life and property saving benefit.

A fire this morning in a Massachusetts condo made the life and property saving point that fire officials have been making as the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) deliberates on a proposal to allow home fire sprinklers in new construction.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Lunenburg Fire Chief Scott Glenny said in a joint statement a single fire sprinkler head controlled the fire in a condominium this morning in Lunenburg. The fire started in the living room couch with a Christmas tree right next to it. The Christmas tree, probably very dry by now, was not involved in the fire. 

State Fire Marshal Coan said, “This demonstrates the reason why sprinklers are such a valuable tool for life safety and protection people’s homes.” No one was home in the condominium where the fire started and firefighters were able to rescue a dog trapped inside. People were home in two other apartments, including a grandmother watching a toddler.  The sprinklers prevented the fire spreading to other units. 

Chief Glenny said, “The million dollar building suffered an estimated $25,000 in damage and no one is displaced. As fast as we were able to get there, the fire sprinkler was faster and had the fire under control frankly before we even left the station.” 

Jon Jones, a Lunenburg resident and chairman of the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations said, “Opponents to residential sprinklers often say that newer buildings don’t have fires or that smoke alarms are adequate fire protection. This building was built in the 1980s and the fire would have progressed significantly and quickly without sprinklers, impacting the people in the other condos and their homes and possessions and pets.” He added, “This underscores how important it is for local jurisdictions to have the flexibility to require residential sprinklers where they think they are need.”

NFPA and fire officials throughout the state have held two press recent events to draw attention to the pending action before the BBRS who has adopted the new building code in the state and omited the provision for home fire sprinklers in new one and two family homes.


At a press conference in December at the State House NFPA President Jim Shannon said, "Your risk of dying in a home fire decreases by more than 80 percent with sprinklers and property damage is reduced by 74 percent” said Shannon. “By allowing substandard housing to be built in Massachusetts, the BBRS puts firefighters and citizens at unnecessary risk. Their action should be reversed.” 

According to Shannon, in the last decade, there have been more than 54,000 fires in one- and two-family homes in Massachusetts. These fires injured more than 2,300 firefighters and 1,500 civilians, and caused more than 753 million dollars in property loss. Forty percent of all firefighter injuries happen in one- and two-family homes.

The first press conference in November included a live side-by-side sprinkler demonstration. More information on the Massachusetts code process underway can be found at www.firesprinklersma.org.



Lorraine Carli