Fire Sprinkler Initiative

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Mythblaster Monday 13: Mythblasting Roundup

We know that new homes are commonly made with lightweight construction and modern, often synthetic furnishings that can lead home fires to create a toxic environment and burn more quickly than in the past. Home fire sprinklers protect occupants and property by controlling the fire before first responders arrive, but misinformation can keep people from taking advantage of them. Over the course of our Mythblaster Monday series, we have combatted several different myths and shared resources highlighting the features, facts, and advantages. A recent report on home structure fires found that the presence of sprinklers lowered the death rate for home fires by 85 percent, compared to home fires without an automatic extinguishing system (AES), and in 90 percent of cases, one sprinkler is enough to control the fire. This benefit to fire & life safety cannot be overstated and increasing home fire sprinkler installations requires a combined effort from first responders, developers, local officials, and other stakeholders. Here's a breakdown of all the myths we have blasted away, in case you missed it: Myth 1: I have smoke alarms, so I don't need home fire sprinklers. Truth: Smoke alarms detect, sprinklers protect. Myth 2: Home Fire Sprinkler installation is too expensive. Truth: Average fire sprinklers cost $1.35 per square foot of sprinklered space in new construction Myth 3: The fire department will be able to put out the fire and save my things. Fact: Fire departments may not be able to get to your home for 9-12 minutes—plenty of time for a fire to grow to be deadly and cause massive damages. Myth 4: Sprinklers don't benefit the environment Fact: Fire hoses, on average, use eight-and-a-half times more water than sprinklers do to contain a fire. Myth 5: Water damage from sprinklers is worse than fire damage Fact: Sprinkler flows are 10-26 gallons of water per minute. Sprinkler damage is a fraction of typical losses from an unsprinklered home fire. Myth 6: Smoke alarms cause fire sprinklers to activate. Fact: Home fire sprinklers are only activated by the high temperature of a fire surrounding the sprinkler. Myth 7: Home fire sprinklers require costly inspections and maintenance. Fact: It's easy--a flow test should be done a couple times a year. Myth 8: Sprinklers will leak. Fact: Sprinkler mishaps are generally less likely and less severe than home plumbing system problems. Myth 9: My insurance rates will go up. Fact: Most insurance companies reward customers who protect their homes with fire sprinklers Myth 10: If a community doesn't require home fire sprinklers, we can't ask builders to put them in. Fact: Even without a code requirement, local jurisdictions can work with developers and builders on many possible incentives for including home fire sprinklers in construction. Myth 11: If one sprinkler goes off, they all go off Fact: Sprinklers activate independently; only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate Myth 12: Sprinklers will freeze in winter. Fact: The national installation standard provides guidance for proper installation in cold regions so that sprinklers don't freeze. This series works as an introduction to the assets available to home fire sprinkler advocates. Be sure to visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative to find further materials regarding installation incentives, educational resources for the public, AHJs, and more.
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Mythblaster Monday - Put the Freeze on this Myth about Home Fire Sprinklers in Winter

Throughout our Mythblaster Monday series, we have pointed to resources that identify the benefits of home fire sprinklers and help combat the misinformation that surrounds them. Last week we debunked a myth frequently perpetuated by Hollywood, the idea that when one fire sprinkler goes off, they all do. Today, we acknowledge a concern that advocates may hear more often as we move into the colder months of the year. Myth: Sprinklers will freeze in winter. Fact: The national installation standard provides guidance for proper installation in cold regions so that sprinklers don't freeze. Homeowners in colder climates are no stranger to the risk of freezing pipes, but they should not refuse the protection of home fire sprinklers based on the false assumption that their sprinklers will freeze. Home structure fires are more common in the cooler months, and recent research found that almost half (47 percent) of home structure fires and 56 percent of home structure fire deaths happened between November and March. NFPA 13D, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes, does not require sprinklers in certain areas of a home that might be prone to freezing pipes, since fires in those areas statistically do not lead to a large number of deaths or injuries. Additional information on freeze protection in sprinklers can be found on a dedicated page of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative. There is specific information for homebuilders. These fire service resources are hands-on tools that can also help communicate the facts to residents. While smoke alarms offer the early detection necessary to tell occupants to get out, home fire sprinklers begin controlling a fire as soon as one is detected, which is an invaluable benefit, especially for high-risk populations like children and older adults. As you consider outreach opportunities, take a look at these community tool kits, which make it easy to break down many of the major advantages of home fire sprinklers, with infographics, op-ed templates, and more. Looking to work with more news outlets in your area? Then you won't want to miss these practical tips for working with the media that include helpful talking points talking points. For more resources, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative online.
Draper family

Utah Family Service Project Reveals Value of Home Fire Sprinkler Protection Through Collaboration and Community Partnerships

One of the best ways we know of to improve fire safety outcomes is in preparing ahead for emergencies before they happen. And whenever there is the possibility to collaborate with others toward that goal, the more opportunities we have to further reduce risks for injuries, damage, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards in our homes and communities. Such is the case when the Grossinger family of Draper, Utah, asked their local fire department for assistance with wildfire mitigation measures around their home. The department happily obliged, but when crews arrived, they noticed that the home's smoke alarm and sprinkler systems needed to be updated. They sprang into action, organizing a service project to upgrade both systems. The case was particularly special because the parents and older daughter of the family are deaf and rely on the younger son to inform them if smoke alarms sound or if there is a fire. Local partners donated and installed new visual smoke alarms and worked on repairing and updating the home's residential fire sprinkler system. According to local news reports, the project was organized as part of NFPA's National Fire Prevention Week that ran October 4 – 10, and was intended not only to serve as a reminder for other homeowners to review their own fire safety measures during the week of the campaign, but to do so all year long. Research shows that fires can become deadly in as little as two minutes. Home fire sprinklers provide fire detection and suppression early on, allowing building occupants valuable time to escape. But they need to be properly installed and maintained to perform as intended. The challenge is many community residents may not know about the benefits of sprinklers or how to get them. Collaborative opportunities like this positive story from Draper is just one example of how safety advocates are raising awareness of the importance of sprinklers and encouraging community residents to take proactive action to improve fire safety for their families. Educating residents on sprinkler options, incentives, and other key information about this life saving technology is key. Tools such as education kits for fire departments, homeowners, and local officials can also be used to support this endeavor. Learn more about home fire sprinklers and find resources to help advocate for them in your community by visiting the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative webpages. Mark Grossinger (left), Don Buckley, Fire Marshal – Draper City Fire Department (Utah) (center), and Brooke Grossinger (right); photo courtesy of the Draper Fire Department  
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Mythblaster Monday 11: Safety Resides in Each Home Fire Sprinkler

We often talk about the best way to improve fire safety outcomes is by having interconnected smoke alarms to alert people so that there may be a fire. Interconnected in the smoke alarm sense means that when one sounds, they all sound. But for home fire sprinklers, this idea of connection results in a persistent myth. Throughout our Mythblaster Monday series, we identify common misunderstandings surrounding home fire sprinklers, offering resources that share their many benefits and flush out the misinformation. Last week, we provided information on developer incentives for installing home fire sprinklers, and today we are clarifying a question that advocates commonly face. Myth: If one sprinkler goes off, they all go off Fact: Sprinklers activate independently; only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate Hollywood has done us no favors when it comes to home fire sprinkler myths – they in fact perpetuate one of the most common misunderstandings about sprinklers. Often in movies or TV shows you see every sprinkler going off in a building when there is a fire or another mishap by some villain character. That is simply not true. Regardless of the type of system—combination or stand-alone, fire sprinklers are attached to pipes throughout the home or property. While they are connected, they don't all go off at once. Home fire sprinklers are there for early suppression, giving occupants more time to escape and giving firefighters a more controlled scene to face. The key to information to refute this common misconception is in this video that shows that only high temperatures activate a sprinkler, only the sprinkler closest to the fire will be affected. In 90 percent of fires, one sprinkler is enough to control the flame. The focused suppression of individual sprinkler activation also results in lower damages and water usage. Research shows that when sprinklers are present, the average dollar loss per fire is 63 percent lower than when there is no automatic extinguishing system, and that sprinklers discharge an average of 341 gallons of water per fire, compared to 2,935 gallons per fire discharged by firefighter hoses. More information on how home fire sprinklers work and what benefits they offer different stakeholders can be found on the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative websites.
Brian Geraci

Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci Honored as Sprinkler Advocate of the Year for 2020

According to research, fires become deadly in as little as two minutes. The more we can do to improve the chances that people and property can be saved, the better. One of the best ways to protect homes in the event of a fire is home fire sprinklers, and the growing number of installations in new homes has been largely driven by the work of AHJs, local officials, and many other community members who know their value. The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) recognizes these individuals with their Sprinkler Advocate of the Year Award, which AFSA created to recognize great advocacy work by individuals not directly involved with the fire sprinkler industry. The 2020 honor has been awarded to Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci. Geraci is well-acquainted with the irreplaceable benefit of early suppression offered by home fire sprinklers. He began his career in 1973 with the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, eventually rising to the role of captain/commander of the Code Enforcement Section, before his retirement as a battalion commander for the Fire and Explosive Investigation Section/Bomb Squad. Throughout his career, Geraci has pushed for residential fire sprinkler legislation in Maryland and was integral to making Maryland one of only two states that requires residential fire sprinkler installation in new homes. Research has shown that home fire sprinklers can lower the risk of dying in a home fire by 80 percent and decrease average property loss per home by around 70 percent, making this a huge contribution to fire and life safety for the residents of Maryland. Congratulations to State Fire Marshal Geraci on this significant honor.  Learn more about how to share the benefits of home fire sprinklers in your community by visiting the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative online. More achievements in fire sprinkler advocacy can be found on The American Fire Sprinkler Association website.
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Mythblaster Monday 10: Home Fire Sprinklers are a Win-Win for Jurisdictions and Developers

From the latest smoke alarms to solar panels, there are many ways for homeowners to make their homes safer and smarter. Unfortunately, when it comes to home fire sprinklers, their many safety benefits can get lost in the noise of misinformation. In our Mythblaster Monday series, we clear up common misunderstandings and share resources that explain how much sprinklers contribute to the protection of lives and property. Last week we debunked the myth that home fire sprinklers increase insurance costs, but insurance incentives aren't the only advantages that come from sprinkler installation. Myth: If a community doesn't require home fire sprinklers, we can't ask builders to put them in. Fact: Even without a code requirement, local jurisdictions can work with developers and builders on many possible incentives for including home fire sprinklers in construction. An exciting and growing phenomenon is happening in communities throughout the country—more communities are working hand in hand with developers to include home fire sprinklers in new homes as part of a program that gives them trade-ups or incentives. These incentives are a win-win for communities, allowing safer homes to be built, providing financial gains for the developers and reducing the burden on first responders.  Yet many jurisdictions are not aware of incentives or think they can't offer them. In order to better protect communities from fire, it is important to learn more about how this works. The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) lists some of the most common incentives as: Street-Width Reduction—Traffic lanes may be narrowed, substantially reducing the amount of pavement in every linear foot of street in the development. Longer Dead-End Streets—Dead-end streets may be increased in length, allowing additional building lots to be accessed. Tee Turnarounds Permitted—The permitted use of tee turnarounds in sprinklered developments can create at least one additional lot per cul-de-sac. Increased Street Grades and Building Setbacks—Steeper street grades and building locations allowed further from where the homes access leaves the main road. Additional Units Permitted—Development plans that allow homes to be closer together. Expansion of Existing Water Supply May Not Be Needed—Required fire flows for fully sprinklered developments can be greatly reduced compared to non-sprinklered developments. Increased Hydrant Spacing—Supply mains may be reduced and hydrant spacing can be increased. Subdivision Single Access Point—A fully sprinklered subdivision allows for a single public access road. This decreases infrastructure costs and significantly increases the number of single-family dwellings allowed. Gated Communities—Gated communities can delay Fire Department Access. A fully sprinklered subdivision provides mitigation for this impact allowing developers to utilize this security option when desired. Reduced Basement Windows—Fire sprinklers reduce rescue openings in every basement sleeping room. HFSC has several resources to begin a program for incentives in your community. This fact sheet details the many incentives available for jurisdictions to present to developers. There are a number of case studies also available on the HFSC website. For example, in Camas, WA, a developer building a 60-home development on a hillside successfully achieved $1 million in infrastructure and material cost savings by agreeing to install home fire sprinklers that protected the entire subdivision. Material for developers interested in including this life-saving technology in their projects can explore more information here or with the free Built for Life Homebuilder Kit. For more resources on how to advocate for home fire sprinklers and combat misinformation, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition online.
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Bowie Fire Reiterates Maryland Leadership with Fire Sprinklers

When advocating for positive change, a positive case study is invaluable. Late last week, Bowie, MD became such a case study when a fire broke out in a single-family home. Thanks to the home's sprinkler system, the fire did not spread beyond the second-floor where it originated, and damage was minimal. It comes as no surprise that Bowie, located in Prince George's county, would be the setting for such a great sprinkler save. In 1992, the county became one of the first areas to enact an ordinance calling for the installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems in new one- and two-family structures. The results are detailed in this 15 year report, providing a fantastic resource for other local officials looking to bring home fire sprinklers into their community. Over the period of study, the county experienced almost 14,000 (13,494) single-family or townhouse fires, where 245 of the homes had fire sprinklers installed. The 245 sprinklered homes resulted in no deaths and only six injuries, compared with the 101 resident deaths and 328 injuries reported in the non-sprinklered home fires. In addition to protecting your community, home fire sprinklers also have been shown to lower water pollution, contributing towards local climate goals. Home fires frequently happen during times when people are asleep, and residential sprinklers begin controlling the fire without any action from occupants, increasing the time they have to get out. As the Benefits of Residential Fire Sprinklers report illustrates, home fire sprinklers should be installed in all single-family homes along with smoke alarms, to provide early detection and suppression to protect lives and property before firefighters arrive. This two-part video series further details the advantages of home fire sprinklers specifically for local officials, and more resources on home fire sprinklers and how to bring them into your community can be found at The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative websites. Fire Prevention Week is October 4-10, 2020. Visit Firepreventionweek.org for the resources you need to help keep your community safe. Let's all Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!TM
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