A Fauquier County, Virginia homebuilder who evaluated new educational information and materials about home fire sprinkler systems has won an Apple iPad Mini in a random drawing. Anthony Palladino, Building Designer CGP at Golden Rule Builders in Catlett, Virginia, was one of more than 200 members of the homebuilding industry that evaluated the online 3D animation education program developed by the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC).
“HFSC is my go-to resource for educational materials,” Palladino says. “The way the information is centered on educating the consumer with basic facts about home fire sprinklers is very important to me as a builder. My clients don’t want to be ‘sold,’ they want to be informed.”
HFSC focuses exclusively on the problem of home fires because nine out of every 10 U.S. structure fire deaths happen in the home. Fire sprinklers provide the ultimate protection by detecting a fire while it is still small and automatically flowing water on the flames. That unique and fast action prevents flashover by controlling deadly heat and smoke. A home fire can become deadly in fewer than three minutes, so providing extra time to escape saves lives and prevents injuries.
Improving the quality and breadth of homebuilder educational materials is a priority for HFSC and key to increasing the understanding of home fire dangers and the many benefits of installing fire sprinklers. However, many homebuilders are still influenced by fire sprinkler myths, says Palladino. “The truth is fire sprinkler systems are fairly simple and can be very reliable and responsive, only activating at the location of the fire and not throughout the entire house. In fact, sprinklers will use less water and cause less damage than would the fire department responding to a house fire,” he says.
HFSC’s interactive 3D tool includes a virtual sprinklered house, providing homebuilders with a unique behind-the-walls perspective on fire sprinklers. The program explains water supply, installation and how sprinklers work as a critical life-safety system. It also addresses the added benefits of environmental protection, which is important to green builders like Palladino’s Golden Rule Builders, which builds to the strict standards of LEED for Homes, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and others.
“Conserving water is definitely a green initiative,” Palladino says, “but the movement has really shifted toward health, safety, comfort and an educated consumer.” Local and national green building programs should be encouraged to promote these objectives, he says. “Homes that are protected from damage caused by fire will require fewer resources to repair and there is nothing greener than safety.”
HFSC updated the 3D interactive homebuilder education program with grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Fire Prevention & Safety Grant award program. HFSC’s evaluation showed strong interest from homebuilders and favorable response: 88% said the program was worth watching; 85% said it improved their knowledge about home fire sprinklers; and nearly three-quarters said they are more likely to recommend fire sprinklers after seeing the program.
“Builders offer safety and security features such as alarms, cameras, automated door locks, specialized lighting, backup generators – even reinforced safe rooms. Fire sprinklers need to be on that list of options. The homebuilder who wants to stand out from the pack may even make safety a standard,” Palladino said.