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The United Kingdom recently celebrated Fire Sprinkler Week 2015, an event that encourages sprinkler installation in various settings via information-sharing and other activities. Sprinkler myth-busting was a vital component of this event. 


While the event this year focused its messaging on the necessity of sprinklering educational and business establishments, home fire sprinklers got its fair share of attention. The devices, which have the approval of many in the U.K. fire service, made recent headlines after the English town of Oswestry decided to enact a pilot program that would install them in a two-bedroom bungalow. The head of a local fire and rescue service went a step further and called for sprinklering all new homes, citing similar, pro-sprinkler arguments used by sprinkler advocates in North America. (The Welsh government has embraced this idea; the country will [require sprinklers in all new homes starting in 2016. |])


 "For many vulnerable people, getting out of their home and away from a fire would be difficult, perhaps impossible," said Andy Blizard, head of the Shropshire, England, Fire & Rescue Service's fire safety team, in a story that appeared on its website. 


Learn more by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Burn survivor's harrowing experience highlighted in NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter

Shortly before midnight on April 4, 1949, a nun on staff at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Effingham, Illinois, smelled smoke and told the switchboard operator that there was a fire in the basement. The operator immediately phoned Frank Ries, the hospital engineer, then called the fire department. But by then it was already too late for 74 of the 128 people working or being cared for at St. Anthony’s.

The hospital, built in 1873, had open corridors, three unenclosed wooden staircases, and three laundry chutes, only one of which had protected openings. There was no fire alarm or sprinkler system. The building, though well-kept, was completely outdated.

Among the 74 who died were 20 staffers, including Ries, and 10 newborns. During the fire, someone heard nurse Fern Riley shout, “My babies! I’ve got to stay with my babies!” Her body was later discovered in the ruins of the nursery. The cause of the fire was never determined.

For more, read “Illinois Tragedy” in the latest issue of NFPA Journal.

Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.

Post by Cathy Prudhomme


Take a quick two-minute break from what you're doing and watch NFPA’s new whiteboard animation video - a tool for fire departments, Firewise Communities/USA program participants, forestry agencies and residents. The fast-paced animation combined with the engaging message uniquely illustrates the importance of local projects and highlights the benefits of grassroots efforts.

The video is a unique outreach tool that will encourage development of local Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities on Saturday, May 2.

Share the fun high-energy video with stakeholders, neighbors, friends and community groups and get them motivated to participate in the campaign! 

Post the video on social media and email the link to your networks and generate projects in your community that will create awareness, education and action on May 2.

NFPA 13 blog photo

NFPA received about 4,000 calls last year from people seeking answers to questions they had about NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, according to Matt Klaus, principal fire protection engineer at NFPA and staff liaison for NFPA 13.

Many of those questions were about sprinkler protection in concealed spaces, Klaus wrote in his new column in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal. It’s a tricky topic, Klaus says, because there are no simple answers when it comes to sprinklers in concealed spaces. Sometimes you need them, sometimes you don’t.

In his column, Klaus explains where in the code answers to these sometimes challenging questions reside.

“When looking at whether or not to provide protection in a concealed space, users of the standard should start in Section 8.1. This section states that sprinklers shall be provided throughout the building unless the standard provides a specific allowance to omit them,” Klaus writes. “Once this baseline logic has been established, the user can go into subsection to look for allowances to omit sprinklers in concealed spaces.”

To learn much more about this topic, read Klaus’s column in NFPA Journal, and visit

Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.

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