It’s widely known within the fire service homes are where the great majority of civilian structure fire injuries and deaths occur. According to NFPA, they comprise 93 percent of home fire deaths and 87 percent of injuries. Less well known is that despite a 47 percent decrease in the number of home fire deaths since 1980, NFPA has found the fire death rate per 1,000 reported fires is actually 10 percent higher. More troubling is the fact that for one- and two-family homes, the death rate per 1,000 reported home fires is 33 percent higher.
“In other words, efforts to prevent home fires appear to be working more effectively than efforts to prevent home fire deaths,” said HFSC Board President Lorraine Carli “The result is a dangerous and stagnant fire loss problem.”
Data from National Standards of Institute and Technology (NIST) and UL has confirmed house fires today are more dangerous. They burn hotter and faster due to construction materials, open-floor design and combustible furnishings. Research has documented the increased risk of cancer firefighters face compared to those outside the field.
Because they control a fire in its incipient stage, home fire sprinklers don’t just protect occupants. They also dramatically reduce responder danger including lessening potential for flashover and structural collapse and decreasing toxic exposure to firefighters.
“Home fire sprinklers should be a central component of any department’s community risk reduction plan (CRR) and work,” Carli added. “HFSC is sharpening its focus on CRR this year, making it easier for fire departments of any size to incorporate home fire sprinkler education into their outreach.”
New Free Resources for Built for Life Fire Departments
HFSC is helping fire departments incorporate fire sprinkler education into their outreach by creating and providing new free resources that will be introduced through the popular Built for Life Fire Department Program (BFLFD). BFLFD underpins fire service grassroots education, increasing the number of fire departments that make home fire sprinklers a priority, and improving fire personnel knowledge. The focus this year is on comprehensive home fire safety – civilians and responders – as part of local CRR. More than 3,000 fire departments are currently signed up for the free program. They are listed on HFSC’s website.
Fire departments are encouraged to use HFSC resources on their own websites and through social media, as well as, customize it for their audiences. The only requirement is departments agree to promote home fire sprinkler education in their service area. Member departments are the first to receive HFSC’s new resources, and they have the exclusive right to apply for HFSC-funded stipends and other activities. The stipends are typically $1,000 for use to conduct demonstrations or build home fire sprinkler displays for education.
In February, HFSC will introduce a new education prop—a box, shaped like a house displaying a home fire sprinkler. The front includes a graphic that shows only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates. The inside includes the flashover timeline and the sprinkler with call outs to explain how the sprinkler works. The new education prop will be available free to Built for Life Fire departments.
HFSC recently introduced a dramatic new live-action video that demonstrates the difference in a typical living room fire when sprinklers are installed and when they’re not. HFSC also built on the huge interest in its illustrated home fire timeline graphic by animating it. A new series of brief video messages reaches viewers with key facts about the benefits of home fire sprinklers specifically for pets, children, older adults, and people with disabilities. Fire service can download these powerful new educational tools to include in their outreach activities online and in person.