New NFPA campaign puts a face on the lifesaving impact of home sprinklers

Published on October 26, 2010
Urges sprinkler requirements in new homes to reduce fire problem

Faces of FireOctober 26, 2010 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced the Faces of Fire campaign, featuring personal stories of those who have been affected by fires in the home. Faces of Fire is a tool to promote the required installation of fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes and is part of NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative. Faces of Fire was developed with funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Faces of Fire features the personal stories of home fire survivors, family members of victims, first responders and homeowners whose property has been protected by fire sprinklers. Through video interviews, photographs and written profiles available online, Faces of Fire is a resource for local advocates and fire personnel, putting personal stories front and center during consideration of fire sprinkler mandates.

The campaign was unveiled at a conference of fire and building officials in Boston today that included a live side-by-side burn to demonstrate the effectiveness of fire sprinklers. Speakers at the burn demonstration included U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines; Gary Keith, NFPA vice president of field operations; and Princella Lee-Bridges, fire survivor and Faces of Fire participant, Greenville, S.C.

“Home fire sprinklers save lives, protect property, preserve community resources and are affordable in new construction. They should not be considered optional in new homes,” said James M. Shannon, NFPA president. “It is our goal that states across the country require lifesaving home fire sprinklers in new construction.”

Because the tragedy of home fires doesn’t discriminate, Faces of Fire features stories from across the racial, gender, geographic and economic breadth of America.

Stories like those of Ms. Lee-Bridges, a former operating room nurse and Desert Storm veteran:

“In the grand scheme of things, how does the cost of putting in sprinklers at $1.25, 2.60, or 3.40 per square foot compare to the loss of a loved one. For me, the burns I suffered in a home fire led to not only physical impacts, but also the loss of a marriage, and the loss of a career I loved,” she says. “How does the cost of installing sprinklers measure up to all of that?”

Each year about 3,000 people in the United States die in home fires. Many home fire deaths and injuries could be prevented through the increased use of fire sprinklers. Today all relevant model building codes call for the use of sprinklers in such homes. By containing fires before they spread, home fire sprinklers protect lives and property.

“Sprinkler opponents are spreading misleading information about sprinklers and putting false information in the minds of consumers and policy makers,” said Shannon. “Such tactics of delay and defeat can cost lives. NFPA is fighting back by sharing research-based information, advocacy tools and now, personal stories of those affected by home fires.”

“One of the toughest parts of my job is seeing the faces of people who have been killed by smoke, heat and flames from a home fire that could have been controlled easily with a residential sprinkler system,” said Mark Showmaker, chief fire marshal/emergency management director for Upper Southampton Township in Southampton, Pa. “In the fire service, we do everything we possibly can to save lives. Our counterparts in the home building industry can do the same by simply supporting the installation of fire sprinklers.” 

The Faces of Fire campaign will be shared through traditional news as well as social media outlets and will be available on NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative® website: www.firesprinklerinitiative.org/faces

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org

About the Fire Sprinkler Initiative®
The Fire Sprinkler Initiative®, a project of the National Fire Protection Association, is a nationwide effort to encourage the use of home fire sprinklers and the adoption of fire sprinkler requirements for new construction.  Visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website at www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.

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