Include fire sprinklers in the code
By David Quinn and Jerry Deluca
In February 2014, one person died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a Long Island restaurant. The state Legislature acted with the appropriate urgency, and two years later, a law is on the books requiring the installation of CO detectors in all commercial properties. This is an excellent example of public officials taking advantage of existing, widely available technologies to improve the public safety.
Sadly, the state Code Council has not demonstrated the same urgency. For some time now, the council has bowed to pressure from home builders’ associations and resisted the inclusion of residential sprinkler systems in New York’s home building codes. This comes in spite of the fact that sprinklers are proven, life-saving technology, and are integrated into the national standard code. The council has, in fact, actively removed the sprinkler requirement from New York’s code, harming the public safety.
If enacted, the sprinkler requirement would apply only to new one- and two-family homes, as well as new town houses. The cost of sprinklers would be approximately $1.65 per square foot — not insignificant, but a small price to pay for protecting one’s home and family, and one that is partially offset by a more favorable home insurance rate. An average home in the Capital Region of approximately 2,000 square feet would cost about $3,300 to equip with sprinklers — often less than the cost of a granite counter-top in the kitchen, and less than what is sometimes paid for a lawn sprinkler system.
This is not just an abstraction: 75 people have already died in 2016 in residential house fires, and we are about to enter winter, when fires typically spike. That is 75 deaths too many, made all the more tragic when a solution is readily available. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 85 percent of all fire deaths occur at home, and the presence of sprinklers cuts the risk of dying by approximately 80 percent.
The New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, along with our sister associations, the Association of Fire Districts of NYS and the NYS Fire Coordinators Association, are constantly striving to reduce the number of fires and fire deaths. We hold fire prevention classes, inform the public about the benefits of smoke alarms and hold open houses at fire stations, but there is only so much we can do. Those in power must act to protect the public, and fire sprinklers are unquestionably effective in doing so. How many more people must die before public safety takes precedence over profit?
- David Quinn is chief administrative officer of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York. Jerry DeLuca is executive director & CEO of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs.
New Homes Burn Too!!
Connecticut Child Dies in Recently Built Home
A six-year-old girl from Connecticut recently died in a fire in a home built only months ago. Her mother is in serious condition. The incident negates persistent claims made by fire sprinkler opponents that smoke alarms and other safety features “offer adequate protection from fire” and home fire sprinklers are not necessary since “today’s fire deaths and injuries are happening in older homes.”
Built by a local Habitat for Humanity chapter this year using lightweight construction materials and occupied by the family in July, the Connecticut home had at least one working smoke alarm, according to news reports. Moreover, had this home’s construction followed requirements found in all U.S. model building codes—specifically, a requirement to sprinkler new dwellings that has appeared in every edition of these codes since 2009—it should have been sprinklered.
Mirroring action occurring across North America, sprinkler opponents in Connecticut have made a convincing—and oftentimes inaccurate—pitch to state and local decision makers that have kept fire sprinklers out of new homes. “Nobody is dying in new homes from fires,” stated Bill Ethier, CEO of Connecticut’s Home Builders and Remodelers Association, in a 2015 essay penned in response to proposed legislation to sprinkler the state’s new homes. (His full essay is attached to this blog post.) “Sprinklers in new homes will not save the lives proponents claim. “[This technology] is an astronomical cost to save a life.”
“This type of logic is misguided and infuriating,” says Jim Pauley, NFPA’s president and CEO. “Time and again, our data proves the majority of America’s fire deaths are occurring at home, old and new alike. Research also confirms that fire sprinklers are a cost-effective component to new homes that can eliminate these tragedies. They are the solution to our home fire problem. To assume that fire sprinkler requirements are merely an unwanted burden to homebuilders with minimal benefits to society places little value on the little girl who sadly passed away, the more than 2,500 others who die each year from home fires, and the thousands of others injured annually by these incidents.”
Pauley is not alone in promoting safer homes in Connecticut and elsewhere. “You have an 80 percent rate of getting out of a house fire with smoke alarms and sprinklers and only a 50 percent chance with smoke alarms alone, so there’s a big difference there,” Keith Flood, chair of the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition, told a Connecticut news station following the recent fire. He is currently working with the coalition to secure home fire sprinkler requirements in his state. “Our opinion is that this may have been a different scenario if the house had sprinklers in it.”
Embrace The Capital Area Association – Make it Your Association
This is your organization, we understand that you can’t make all of the meetings and we also know that we are operating in a new way, many are getting information through the Capital Bulletin, but we still need to have an administrative structure to govern the Association. We have grown to 75 member district with only a few districts in the 8 counties we cover that don’t belong. We are financially strong and have reduced the cost of our workshops. But, we still have to govern and need your input and participation. I have been an officer in the Capital Area Association for several years as has 1st Vice President Meehan, we would both welcome anyone who would like to run for an office who is interested in continuing our success. Please consider attending the November meeting where elections will take place, we don’t want this organization to become limited in scope and control and urge that nominations are open to anyone who wishes to do a good job. Tom Rinaldi President
Common Sense Prevails on the 7 Year Tire Standard – For Now
ENCOURAGING REPORT ON NFPA 1911: STANDARD FOR THE INSPECTION, MAINTENANCE, TESTING, AND RETIREMENT OF IN-SERVICE AUTOMOTIVE FIRE APPARATUS. This Standard provides minimum requirements for establishing an inspection, maintenance, and testing program for in-service fire apparatus, including guidelines for fire apparatus refurbishment and retirement. Most notably, or infamously, this standard required that, “tires shall be replaced at least every seven (7) years or more frequently…”
There has been some rethinking on the subject, see the Bulletin thanks to Attorney Bill Glass here: Bulletin May 2015 Tires
Fire District Legal FAQ’s
Did you know that you can access a number of legal questions on the State Association of Fire Districts web site at www.firedistnys.com? Many of the frequently asked questions sent to our legal counsel, Bill Young are published for your research. You need to Login as a member fire district, your ID and Password can be requested at tab Member Center, see tab Create New Account. Your personal login will be approved within 72 hours. Once you have your login credentials then click on Counsel Corner & FAQs. If you have a legal question, start there first. This is one of the benefits of belonging to the State Organization.
Risk Assessment for Emergency Self Escape Systems
This document is form used to assess structures in your primary area of response where self rescue may be required due to elevation.Risk Assessment Emer Escape Systems final document
To assist you in performing your risk assessment and to fill out the Risk Assessment Form we are supplying the following Guidance Document Self Rescue Risk Assessment Guidance Document draft 1