Published on November 2, 2015.

2015 in Review

A recap of NFPA's advocacy in support of sprinklers.

A LOT OF WORK WAS DONE in 2015 to advance NFPA’s advocacy goal of increasing the number of homes with fire sprinklers. There were some notable gains, a few losses, and a lot of progress and education along the way. Here’s a sampler:

» The Fire Sprinkler Initiative, NFPA’s main sprinkler advocacy effort, helped form state sprinkler coalitions in Florida, Delaware, and New Hampshire. With the additions, 27 states now have active coalitions advocating and educating both lawmakers and the public on the facts of home sprinklers.

» With the help of key testimony from a father who lost his 21-year old daughter in a house fire, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill that requires all landlords to inform tenants in writing whether or not a home has fire sprinklers. The law went into effect in October.

» In Maryland’s Caroline County, a group of volunteer firefighters successfully fought and defeated an effort by the county commissioners to weaken the state’s sprinkler requirement for all new homes.

» The New York Sprinkler Initiative, the state’s version of a coalition, fought hard for the full adoption of the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC), which includes a requirement to sprinkler new one- and two-family homes, but the New York Fire Prevention and Building Code Council voted in August to strike the sprinkler requirement from the code before adopting it. Advocates vowed to continue their fight.

» Tennessee governor Bill Haslam signed a bill removing a sprinkler requirement for all new townhomes. Local fire service members testified in support of maintaining the requirement, and NFPA lent its support through written testimony.

» Delivering a blow to Minnesota’s fire safety advocates, the state’s Court of Appeals overturned a meausure by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry requiring sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes greater than 4,500 square feet. A day after the ruling, a father and his two young sons died in a house fire in St. Paul. The house did not have sprinklers.

» The Estero, Florida, Fire District unanimously voted to require sprinklers in all new, one- and two-family homes. Opponents claimed the measure would price families out of the market, but Estero Fire Rescue commissioned a study that found the average installation cost to be only $1.61 per sprinklered square foot.

» NFPA produced three “Faces of Fire” videos in 2015 focused on members of the fire service. The latest features Massachusetts firefighter Phil Tammaro, who was two years old when he was significantly burned in a house fire. His recovery lasted nearly four decades, and along the way he decided to become an outspoken champion for fire sprinklers.