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Rick EnnisFire Chief Rick Ennis broke an NFPA blog record when his commentary on a fatal fire death involving a two year old was viewed more than 20,000 times. 

He has graciously accepted our request to regularly blog for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, joining our other unique voices in the push for increased acceptance and use of home fire sprinklers. Here's a sampling of his inaugural post:

I am honored to have been asked to contribute regularly to this blog. I am guessing you have two pressing questions at the moment: One, who the heck is this guy? And two, why the heck is he writing a monthly blog about fire sprinklers? I thought I would open by offering this basic premise: The U.S. fire service has always been divided into two general camps—prevention people and suppression people.

Prevention folks have generally believed that the best fire is the one that never starts. Their beliefs are rooted in the findings of President Truman’s National Conference on Fire Prevention in 1947 and focused on fire protection through engineering, enforcement, and education. They are associated with taking a proactive approach to fire and life safety. Prevention people strive for a future in which unfriendly fires cease to exist.

Suppression guys have generally believed that the best fires are the ones to which they are first-in. Their beliefs are rooted in traditions pre-dating President Truman and focus on fire protection through aggressive firefighting strategies, tactics, and task assignments. They are associated with taking a reactive approach to firefighting and rescue. Suppression people strive to hone their craft to be the best of the best at what they do.

Fire sprinklers have traditionally been seen as a “prevention” issue. They are mostly discussed in prevention bureaus. Sprinklers are something fire protection engineers design, code enforcement officials endorse, and public education officers promote. Suppression people simply learn about the components of various fire sprinklers in the academy, during an occasional drill, or while studying for a promotion. Suppression folks pre-plan which buildings are sprinklered and respond to sprinkler activations. To the average prevention and suppression person, fire sprinklers are most often associated with large- or special-occupancy hazards.

Let’s be honest: we need both prevention and suppression people, and we need them to better balance themselves. 

Read more of Ennis' post by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

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Does NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, apply to existing buildings that are not undergoing rehabilitation? Are features that don’t comply with NFPA 101 grandfathered so that they don’t have to comply with the requirements for existing buildings? And how long do requirements for new buildings that were applied at the time  the buildings were constructed continue to apply to what is now an existing building?

NFPA 101 is unique among codes in that it applies to both new and existing buildings, and these three common questions help put that applicability into perspective, says Ron Coté, NFPA’s principal life safety engineer.

For the answers to these questions and the reasons behind those answers, read Coté’s column “Old + New” in the latest issue of NFPA Journal.

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