5 Ways to Advocate for Fire Sprinklers in Your Community’s Buildings

  • April 20, 2023
Fire Sprinklers for Community Buildings

Although the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends installing fire sprinklers in all new one or two-family homes, only two states require it. In 20 states, municipalities can set their standards for residential buildings, while 26 states voted against residential fire codes. If you’d like to advocate for fire sprinklers in your community to improve everyone’s safety, here are some ways to approach it:

The Value of Residential Fire Sprinklers

Fire sprinklers and safe fire codes help save lives and property, but in order to advocate for more official measures, make sure to emphasize these important talking points:

Increased Fire-Related Deaths

Fire-related deaths have increased by 33% since 2012, though it has declined in the past 40 years. In 2021, 70 firefighters died on duty from non-COVID causes.

Fire Spread in New Homes

The rise in civilian fatalities could be due to how fast flames spread in modern homes. Forty years ago, occupants had 17 minutes to evacuate when a house caught fire. Now, a fire can become deadly in as little as two minutes. Tall ceilings let fire travel faster and synthetic building materials, like plastics and textiles, are more flammable than traditional components, like solid wood. These home components also create more toxic smoke, which can be just as harmful.

Efficacy of Fire Sprinklers

A single sprinkler controls a home fire 90 percent of the time and the death rate in homes with sprinklers is 89 percent lower than in homes without them. Just that single installation can help keep you, your family, and your neighbors safe.

5 Ways to Advocate for Fire Sprinklers in Your Community

If you’d like to advocate for fire sprinklers in your town, the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative has the resources to help. Visit the website for fact sheets, a media guide, and a handout with facts and myths about fire sprinklers. And if you’re wondering whether or not your state has a fire sprinkler coalition, the page lists coalitions in the U.S. and Canada. Armed with these resources, here’s how you can take action:

Learn About Local Fire Issues

Familiarize yourself with fire statistics in your community. Find out how many fires have occurred in the past ten years and how many people have died and learn what laws apply in your city and state.

Educate Decision-Makers

Don’t assume local officials realize the facts about deadly fires. Reach out to officials involved in construction, like planners, developers, builders, and water purveyors. Help them understand how structure fires impact residents, firefighters, and the community. Sprinklers reduce the water needed to extinguish a fire by up to 90 percent.

Endorse Building Code Changes

When your city reviews its residential code, encourage authorities to improve safety with a home fire sprinkler requirement. An updated code without fire sprinklers can leave residents in danger. Remember, not all fires begin inside the house. Increasingly, wildfires cause massive damage in warm, dry areas of the country, so homeowners should be prepared.

Counter Inaccurate News

Home builders can be the most vocal opponents of sprinkler requirements in some states. One common argument is that sprinklers are expensive to install, but the NFPA estimates installation in new construction averages $1.35 per square foot. If you see an inaccurate report online, comment on social media or write a letter to the editor. Help educate the public by sharing facts and myths about home fire sprinklers.

Influence Planning

Even if changing the local fire code is not an option, the local fire marshal can be helpful during planning meetings for new developments. They can share data about developer incentives that can lower construction costs, such as increased hydrant spacing and reduced street width, that influence the decision to install fire sprinklers.

Advocate for Fire Sprinklers in Your Community’s Buildings

Whether you’re a building manager, fire official, or private citizen, you can advocate for the use of fire sprinklers in your community. If you’re building a home for your family or an entire subdivision, we can help protect it. Let the specialists at A&A Fire Protection help you design and install a fire sprinkler system in your new construction project today!