AFSA Supports Coalition’s Nationwide Educational Event in Boston
The vast majority of fire deaths in North America happen at home. The time has come to bring attention to this problem–and its solution. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) celebrated Home Fire Sprinkler Week from May 19-25, 2019. More than 50 fire departments and fire sprinkler coalitions in 25 states and Canadian provinces held events in May for the second annual Home Fire Sprinkler Week.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is a founding member of HFSC, and AFSA’s President & CEO Debra McGuire and Director of Communications & Social Media Nicole Duvall attended the national media event on May 22 at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts.
As local educational events took place across the U.S. and Canada, the national media event featured Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Denis Onieal, Massachusetts Deputy State Fire Marshal Maribel Fournier, and NFPA President & CEO Jim Pauley, who spoke at the event featuring a live sprinkler demonstration.
“We know that fire sprinkler technology is the best way to knock down a fire quickly,” said Pauley at the national media event. “It’s our best bet to be able to reduce harm to people, property, and our first responders. We raise awareness about this important problem, and we foster informed conversations about fire sprinklers. People need to know that sprinklers can—and do—change the outcome in a fire.”
United States Fire Administrator Keith Bryant and Dr. Onieal vigorously support the installation of fire sprinklers in the homes of America. “The world has changed significantly since 1973 [when USFA was founded],” recounted Onieal to the crowd. “The methods and materials used in construction are lighter and less resistant to fire spread. Our home’s contents are made of synthetic materials that burn quickly and produce toxic smoke. Firefighters are 11 times more likely to be harmed in a fire, and simply stated, fire sprinklers are the only technology available to prevent these injuries.”
HFSC President and NFPA Vice President of Outreach & Advocacy Lorraine Carli narrated the live side-by-side burn demonstration. Carli said it’s time to prevent home fires claiming lives now. “The alarming number of home fire deaths and injuries each year should be on the radar of every decision maker and member of the media,” said Carli. “Through these events, we hope to illuminate the fire problem and its solution on a national scale. Fire sprinklers have been a U.S. model building code requirement since 2009, yet challenges to its adoption still exist. Taking action collectively will send a powerful message that fire sprinklers are widely accepted and must be embraced in every state.”
The national event, which used the #HomeFireSprinklerWeek hashtag on social media, started with a fire lit in the room protected by fire sprinklers. Both rooms had identical, newly purchased living room furniture and smoke alarms. The smoke alarm activated at 17 seconds. The fire quickly spread, activating the sprinkler at 45 seconds. Carli reminded viewers that the typical fire department response time is nine to 10 minutes. With fire sprinklers, a fire is controlled or extinguished while the fire is still small.
Next, a fire was started in the room without fire sprinklers. The smoke alarm sounded at 14 seconds. Carli pointed out how thick the smoke was from the burning furniture—a toxic and deadly mix. Flashover occurred at just over two minutes.
In 2018, the coalition hosted its inaugural Home Fire Sprinkler Day on May 19. This project’s aim is to unite fire sprinkler advocates across North America by promoting home fire sprinklers through side-by-side sprinkler demonstrations and other educational events. These events raise awareness of this life-saving technology while breaking down the myths and legislative barriers to its use.
The HFSC was formed by AFSA, NFPA, and National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) in 1996 in response to the tremendous need to inform the public about the life-saving value of home fire sprinkler protection. Free HFSC resources can help you to promote the life-saving and financial benefits of home fire sprinklers. The coalition encourages you to share these educational materials, available at homefiresprinkler.org, with your community during Home Fire Sprinkler Week or anytime during the year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicole Duvall is the director of communications and social media for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.