Fire Sprinklers: A Life-Saving Solution Remote Workers Can Feel Right at Home With
Covid changed everything. Will it leave a lasting impact on fire safety too?
Before the pandemic, only about 5 percent of full-time employees with office jobs worked primarily from home. According to a recent Forbes article, that figure is likely to settle at 20 to 30 percent in our new normal, varying across occupations and industries.
Many workplaces and offices are protected by fire sprinklers; NFPA included, I’m happy to say. And wise business travelers select sprinklered hotels when they’re on the road. Great. But what about all the people working at home now? The work-at-home trend has many positives for many people, but it also heralds a concern for remote workers – unsafe homes.
And remote workers aren’t the only ones at risk. Home is where we want to feel safest, but that comfort is often misplaced. For example, smoke alarms were present in three-quarters of reported US home fires, but three out of five home fire deaths happened in homes without smoke alarms or with non-operational alarms (NFPA 2014-2018). And a recent NFPA survey showed that just one in three American homes had and practiced an escape plan. Making matters worse, just 7 percent of US homes have installed fire sprinklers.
Today’s home fires can become deadly in less than two minutes. That’s justification for better home fire protection, especially home fire sprinklers. Having smoke alarms just isn’t enough. First, smoke alarms need to be working – all of them, all the time. Everyone in the home needs to recognize the alarm and know what to do. And everyone needs to be certain they know how and where to escape, from every room in the home. That requires a plan with an escape strategy for everyone in the household.
Yes, smoke alarms are essential. But they can only alert us to the presence of smoke. Uniquely, home fire sprinklers go beyond that important task, controlling a fire when it’s still small and often extinguishing it. That curbs the growth and spread of deadly smoke, and gives families precious time to safely escape, regardless of age or ability or personal action in response to the alarm.
As lifestyles keep evolving and more people of different ages are living together and working remotely, homes are being occupied for longer hours and used in new ways. Every new home built without fire sprinklers is substandard from day one. That impacts the entire community, including the fire service.
What can you do? Make home fire sprinkler education a permanent part of your community risk reduction work. Focus outreach on local officials, builders and developers, and of course consumers, especially those folks planning to build or buy a new home.
You are their trusted resource for information about home fire safety. As always, NFPA is here to help you. Tap into our free resources. And for home fire sprinkler content, use the free turnkey tools from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) that make it easy for you to educate all your local target audiences. Create a space on your website to offer facts about the value of building new homes with fire sprinklers and link to the HFSC website. Upload videos and other content, and post cards to your social media accounts.
When it comes to home fire safety, these and other related activities are a great way to raise awareness of the life-saving technology of home fire sprinklers. Find this and other related information at HomeFireSprinkler.org where the site is free of advertising and all content is free to you.