NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative team is exhibiting at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) this week for the purposes of informing elected officials on the many benefits of home fire sprinklers. Since NCSL is taking place in Minnesota, where state lawmakers recently published a new mandate requiring sprinklers in new homes larger than 4,500 square feet, we decided to chat with fire service officials also at the conference to get their take on the new requirement.
Standing near a fire truck rolled onto the exhibit floor, Tom Clark, a Minnesota firefighter there on behalf of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), praised the coordinated effort of the state's fire service that backed the sprinkler legislation. "If you go in as one big force, it makes a big difference when the legislators start asking questions...and you all have the same answers," he told NFPA.
A sprinkler advocate, Clark also practices what he preaches. When he had his new home built within a subdivision, "I told the builders I want [a sprinkler system]," he says. "They gave me some flak for that, but I was insistent on it. What's frustrating is that I talked to my neighbors. Had they been offered a sprinkler system, they said they would have put one in. They weren't even given the option."
Tom Thornberg, Fifth District Vice President with IAFF and NCSL attendee, praised the new requirements and noted that like NFPA, IAFF also supports residential sprinklers. While Thornberg would like to see all new one- and two-family homes in his state sprinklered, he says the legislation is great first step. "It's been proven--residential fire sprinklers save lives and property."