In a span of only four hours, safety advocates in Connecticut debunked myths, highlighted the facts, and initiated stunned glances during a demonstration and educational event promoting home fire sprinklers.
Hosted by the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition, NFPA, and the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), the event in West Haven on December 1 was free for more than 100 of the state's fire service, building officials, and water purveyors tasked with overseeing and protecting the state's water supply. Since members of these groups tend to have misconceptions about sprinkler operation and performance, event organizers got them in one room to hash out their concerns and learn how sprinklers can be a viable option in all new homes.
Matt Klaus, NFPA's principal fire protection engineer, joined Roland Asp, NFSA's Manager of Installation Standards, for a joint presentation on NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes. They addressed antifreeze concerns, sprinkler installation components, and the many steps the 13D committees have taken to reduce installation costs. For instance, while the standard requires the use of new sprinkler heads listed by an independent agency, certain components do not need this listing, thereby cutting costs.
Extraneous fees sometimes assessed by water purveyors for fire sprinklers was another hot topic. "We want to try to get to even ground so the water purveyor doesn't lose money," said Asp. "We want to come to a nice balance."
When asked how fire sprinklers in accordance with NFPA 13D prevent water stagnation, another water purveyor concern, the duo noted that certain system designs prevent stagnation from occurring.
The many fire sprinkler myths were also examined by Klaus. When comparing today's lightweight construction materials in new homes with traditional lumber, "newer construction is better, but when you talk about [fire] causation, that doesn't change because of newer or older materials," said Klaus.
The group then headed outdoors for a live burn/sprinkler demonstration that attracted the attention of the media and local politicians. Addressing the crowd, West Haven Mayor Edward O'Brien congratulated the Connecticut coalition for continuing to spread the sprinkler message to the public.
Following the demonstration, in which sprinklers controlled a fire in less than a minute, an attendee exclaimed, "That was pretty amazing! Very fast."