During NFPA's recent Home Fire Sprinkler Summit, Massachusetts State Representative Ruth Balser gave tips on how to convince state legislators that home fire sprinklers are a crucial, life-safety component in new homes.
Balser has been a vocal sprinkler supporter ever since a tragic fire in her district killed five people. Developing a close relationship with the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal, she became increasingly aware of the frequency of home fire deaths and has introduced legislation in support of sprinklers in these settings.
Balser recommends that sprinkler advocates should establish relationships with their legislator and constantly press them to take a stance in support of sprinklers. (Make a convincing case by utilizing the Fire Sprinkler Initiative's advocacy tools.) Informing elected officials that sprinklers protect emergency responders should be part of your pitch, she added. "This argument has to be made loud and clear: we have a responsibility to the people that go into those burning buildings," she told summit attendees.
Stanley Briers, another summit speaker who has spent years navigating the legislative process in Texas, also stressed that advocates need to develop relationships with legislators before you reach out to them for sprinkler-related efforts. "They might not remember our names, but they remember our faces," he said.