The Mail Tribune reports that the city of Medford's mayor, Gary Wheeler, received a recommendation to sprinkler all new, one- and two-family homes from Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg. Noting that competition will eventually drive down sprinker installation costs (a point highlighted in NFPA's recent sprinkler cost study report), Kleinberg's recommendation seems to have gotten the attention of Wheeler, who told the paper, "You can't put a price on a child."
Kleinberg also noted that Medford has averaged 82 fires a year over the past five years, the majority occurring in one- and two-family dwellings. Of the 22 fire-related deaths over the past 25 years, Kleinberg said sprinklers could have prevented 17 of those deaths.
"Our experience is that older homes have the problems," a representative from the Jackson County Homebuilders Association told the paper. "Many homes today are extremely safe."
Not so, say fire officials, who note that today's lightweight construction materials, upholstered furnishings filling homes, and room layouts all exacerbate fire spread. "We're packing our houses full of fuel," said Kleinberg.
For those in Oregon, please show your support for this recommendation by utilizing the advocacy materials available through NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative. Write an op-ed or contact elected officials utilizing NFPA's talking points on sprinklers. Also consider joining the Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalition.
For those in other states, please make the same pitch for sprinklers to your legislators or code-adopting bodies. Let us know how we can help!