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Image of bridal checklistEvery bride wants her wedding day to be memorable; for me, that means hosting my big day at a beautiful Victorian estate. I toured several mansions in Massachusetts before choosing the venue for my upcoming wedding, a national historic landmark designed in 1793 that features expansive lawns, lush gardens, gazebos, and greenhouses.

On my first visit there, as I floated down the grand staircase, imagining myself gracefully navigating those same stairs in high heels and a full-length dress on my wedding day, the mansion’s caretaker shared some important details with me. She didn’t focus on the ballroom’s Federal Period architecture, the antique-filled parlors, or the pine paneling in the library and music room but on how the building could be enjoyed while the safety of the guests is maintained.

We talked about candles. She told me that I would have to comply with fire safety regulations. I wouldn’t be permitted to use traditional candles inside the building, on the veranda, or on the grounds, but I would be allowed to use battery-operated candles. My guest list includes several people with disabilities. I was relieved to hear that the building is accessible and has an accessible restroom. The caretaker touched on escape planning too. Only 65 people would be permitted in the ballroom for the reception’s sit-down meal because of life safety codes.

When I went home that day, I pulled out my bridal checklist that helps me remember to take care of important tasks. I was pleased to add “fire and life safety considerations” to the top of the list and give it a great big checkmark.

Smoke alarmsHere's an NFPA history lesson: the requirement for smoke alarms in one- and two-family dwellings made its debut in the 1976 edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®. Only one smoke "detector" (as they were referred to in this edition of the code) was required, and its location wasn't specified in the code.

In the latest issue of NFPA Journal, columnist Chip Carson discusses how the Life Safety Code has continually expanded the number of smoke alarms required in homes, which has contributed to a decline in civilian fire deaths since 1976. 

"Even so, there is more work to do," says Carson. "NFPA data indicates that more than four million households in the U.S. remain unprotected. Other studies have found that in some high-risk neighborhoods more than 75 percent of homes do not have working smoke alarms."

Read Carson's suggested solutions to this problem in the latest edition of Journal.

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