Connecticut fire service leaders address fatal home fire and lack of fire protection in new homes

October 25, 2016 – Connecticut’s top fire service organizations joined the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) today at the South Fire District in Middletown to address a home fire in September that killed a six-year-old girl in a new home and inaction by state decision makers to provide a key safety feature in new homes.

“I find it appalling that in 2016 we continue to witness the devastation from home fires when the solution to this problem has existed for years,” Keith Flood, fire marshal for the West Haven Fire Department and chair of the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition, said at today’s event. “Inaction by our state’s decision makers has led to another tragedy. We need them to finally start embracing home fire sprinklers and stop listening to the rhetoric by local fire sprinkler opponents. Now is the time to bolster laws that will lead to safer homes for future generations.”

Earlier this year, the six-year-old girl and her family moved into their Plainfield home. Had the home followed requirements found in all U.S. model building codes when it was built earlier this year, it should have included fire sprinklers. This technology can reduce the risk of dying in home fires by 80 percent, according to NFPA.

However, Connecticut’s code-making body has decided not to adopt this requirement each time it has updated the state building code since 2010. Similarly, legislative bills that would have required fire sprinklers in new homes have been defeated with help from local fire sprinkler opponents. These opponents, mainly the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut, claim this technology is burdensome, not necessary, and expensive—all myths countered by solid research.

At today’s event, a side-by-side fire demonstration using two identical structures underscored how quickly fire spreads in homes and how rapidly home fire sprinklers can extinguish fires. Moreover, the local fire service once again urged state decision makers to pass a requirement to fire sprinkler all new homes following the recent tragedy. Backing this requirement is the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition, which was formed in 2014 to educate the public and state’s decision makers on how this technology can successfully combat the state’s home fire problem. 

Connecticut law requires homebuilders to offer fire sprinklers as an option to homebuyers, but state fire officials say this option doesn’t go far enough to protect lives.

The Connecticut Coalition is part of a grassroots movement aimed at eliminating home fire deaths and injuries. There are now 30 state sprinkler coalitions addressing America’s home fire problem. Eighty percent of all U.S. fire deaths each year, for instance, still occur at home, according to NFPA. 

“Fire sprinklers are virtually commonplace in every other setting except the place where fire causes the most injury and death,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, said at today’s event. “States and communities across the country have seen the successes of creating requirements for fire sprinklering new homes. Connecticut, too, can make a significant improvement in its home fire problem by requiring fire sprinklers, which research proves can be a cost-effective addition to new homes.

For more information on the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition, visit FireSprinklerInitiative.org/Connecticut.

About the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition
The Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition is dedicated to promoting home fire sprinklers. The coalition actively works to educate stakeholder groups on home fire sprinklers and collaborates with key state fire service organizations to address and overcome barriers to fire sprinkler requirements for new homes.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275
Contact: Keith Flood, Keith Flood, Fire Marshal West Haven Fire Department, +1 203 937-3710