Veteran Ryan Sykes helps to raise the U.S. flag in front of his new home, complete with a residential sprinkler system donated and installed by AFSA members. Photo courtesy of Nick Hunte.

AFSA and HFOT: Protecting America’s Heroes From Fire

AFSA Members Provide Residential Fire Sprinkler System for HFOT Home

Members of the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) were honored to donate and install a residential sprinkler system in the Homes for Our Troops home of Navy Petty Officer First Class Ryan Sykes, who resides in Grass Valley, California. Sykes received the keys to his new home during a key ceremony on January 15, 2022.

The home was provided by Homes For Our Troops (HFOT), a publicly funded 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans to enable them to rebuild their lives. Most of these Veterans have sustained injuries, including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). To date, HFOT has provided over 320 specially adapted homes. AFSA has partnered with HFOT and is its exclusive residential fire sprinkler provider.

A New, Customized Home by AFSA and HFOT

California codes require a residential sprinkler system in newly built homes in Grass Valley. The system’s components were donated and installed by AFSA Members Foothill Fire Protection, Loomis, California, and Pace Supply Corp., Rohnert Park, California.

“When I reached out to our Sac Valley Chapter AFSA Member Dillon Gray of Foothill Fire Protection to install a fire sprinkler system on this project, he graciously volunteered to donate all time and materials,” says AFSA Sacramento Valley Chapter Executive Director Paulene Norwood, HFOT coordinator for AFSA. “Knowing that we participated in the construction of this home and the safety of its occupants is so rewarding to all involved.”

In addition to the residential sprinkler system, Sykes’ new home has more than 40 special adaptations, including wider halls and doorways; handicap-accessible counters, sinks, appliances, and windows; and a ceiling-mounted track system, making it possible for him to move from room to room without a wheelchair.  

Service and Sacrifice

Skyes joined the military after graduating from high school, serving as a special warfare analyst for the U.S. Navy. During his fifth deployment to Afghanistan in 2008, Sykes sustained a traumatic brain injury and other life-threatening injuries. Lying unconscious in the darkness for more than five hours, a local security guard found him and alerted American troops. Sykes was saved from further brain injury due to the freezing temperatures that limited the swelling of his brain.

Now medically retired with partial paralysis, cognitive challenges, and speaking difficulties, Ryan maintains an active lifestyle and makes working out a priority despite his injuries. He likes being outdoors, usually accompanied by his service dog Docker and enjoys camping, biking, kayaking, and swimming. He also gives back to his community through his involvement in his local Rotary club. Ryan now rides an upright trike and has placed first for the past several years in the USA Cycling Para-Cycling National Championships.

“A New Outlook”

Ryan is grateful to those who supported the building of his home. “Thank you for this chance to start a new chapter in my life. This is an opportunity that I never dreamed of and one I shall never take for granted. You have given me more than just a household, a new outlook, a new way of a future.”

HFOT and its partners are proud to present this home to Skyes and to continue honoring Veterans. Bill Ivey, HFOT executive director, told FOX40 news station that the “entire home is accessible to Ryan in his wheelchair, so that restores some of the freedom and independence that he sacrificed defending freedom and independence for us in his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“Everyone has been completely supportive,” says Shaquanta Bailey, community manager for Homes For Our Troops. “We reach out to them, and they’ve shown up—Grass Valley and Nevada County—have definitely shown up to wrap their arms around this Veteran.”

AFSA is a Proud Partner With HFOT

In 2017, AFSA became the official provider of fire sprinkler systems in HFOT homes. AFSA members came together to donate materials, time, and talent for Veterans’ new homes when a residential sprinkler system is requested or required.  Many of AFSA’s members understand the sacrifice that these Veterans have made, and they are eager to donate their valuable resources to the cause.

ASA and HFOT Need Your Help!

Would you assist us with HFOT residential fire sprinkler projects? Everything is needed for these projects, from materials to manpower. Can you install labor; provide design services; offer inspection, testing, and maintenance services; or donate to offset expenses and fees (i.e., permitting costs)? We also need materials and supplies: sprinklers (heads, escutcheons, etc.), flexible drops, sprinkler pipe and connectors, sprinkler valves, residential riser and/or FDC, couplings, hangers, pipe cement, tape, etc. Some projects require additional special equipment such as a pump, tank, or backflow preventer.

We couldn’t do this without our AFSA members stepping up to volunteer their materials, time, and expertise for these deserving Veterans. To sign up, contact Norwood via email at or via phone at (916) 296-0635 or AFSA’s Public Relations Manager D’Arcy Montalvo via email at or via phone at (214) 349-5965 ext. 115. To find out more about HFOT or to make a donation, visit

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