Author(s): Jesse Roman. Published on September 4, 2014.

LAWMAKERS IN BOTH New York and Minnesota adopted legislation recently that should boost the use of sprinkler fire suppression systems in both states.

In Minnesota, a new law will require new houses larger than 4,500 square feet to be built to include fire sprinkler systems. The state’s firefighters as well Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton have strongly supported the law, which goes into effect January 24.

Convincing some state legislators, however, was another matter.

Back in May, Dayton threatened to veto a $846 million public works bill when lawmakers attached language to the bill that would have killed the sprinkler initiative. Opponents ultimately backed off and the bill was passed July 28.

While New York didn’t go as far as Minnesota, lawmakers there did take steps to ensure that renters would be better informed about whether their building has sprinklers installed. According to a new law, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed August 5, all new rental leases must now include bolded language telling prospective renters whether or not the building is protected by a fire sprinkler system.

In a statement, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs applauded the new law, but urged New York to take the next step and mandate that all new one and two-family homes be built with sprinkler systems.

Web updates simplify sprinkler advocacy
Haven’t the faintest idea on how to convince your legislators that sprinkler systems are a must in all new homes? Don’t fret.

NFPA has organized its free advocacy materials on its Fire Sprinkler Initiative (FSI) site, firesprinklerinitiative.org, that help make a convincing case for sprinkler installation. The new “Advocacy Tools” section houses all resources showcasing the proven benefits of home fire sprinklers, including fact sheets, case studies, and shareable video links. NFPA’s Faces of Fire, more than 20 stories of people impacted by house fires, are some of the more popular videos on the FSI site.

Additionally, this section includes the “Advocacy Materials” page, where you’ll find downloadable templates of letters to legislators and code-making bodies urging sprinkler requirements, a sprinkler petition form, print ads, and speaking tips for effective advocacy.
Looking for materials catered to your state? The FSI site’s new “Sprinkler Coalitions” section highlights the 20 (and counting) state coalitions comprised of the fire service and other sprinkler advocates educating the public and code-adopting officials on sprinklers. Most state pages include localized sprinkler news and resources.

Access the new sections by clicking on the “Advocacy Tools” and “Sprinkler Coalitions” tabs on the FSI home page. —Fred Durso, Jr.