I have spoken at many conferences about NFPA codes and standards, and the benefits to the fire- and life-safety community. At almost every event, discussions arise about how to provide accurate education about the benefits of home-fire sprinklers, and questions are asked about NFPA 13D: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.
In response, I’ve been telling more and more people about the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition – Canada (HFSC) and its website (homefiresprinklercanada.ca). HFSC – Canada provides a wealth of free information for public education, research, advocacy and outreach, and other resources and all are targeted to the Canadian market.
The goal of HFSC – Canada is to increase awareness of the role of home fire sprinklers in saving lives and preventing injuries.
The coalition was launched in 2009 at the request of fire-service leaders who were interested in gaining information about how to promote sprinklers and advocate for the installation of them in new one- and two-family homes.
Fire service leaders know all too well that most fire deaths occur in the home, that they usually happen at night when occupants are asleep, and that they disproportionately claim the lives of the most vulnerable, such as older adults or those with cognitive or mobility challenges. Fires can spread very quickly and can build from a small flame to a total conflagration in less than three minutes.
I’ve heard it said that sprinklers aren’t needed because every new home has interconnected smoke alarms installed. There’s no argument that smoke alarms aren’t vitally important, but they alert occupants only to the presence of a problem and do not inhibit or control a fire. Sprinklers give families time to escape and will suppress or hold a fire in check until the fire department arrives.
The HFSC – Canada encourages fire service leaders to use all the educational material and resources available to engage with their communities to begin and continue the discussion that home-fire sprinklers are critical. Home-fire sprinklers are also key to a community’s ability to develop and deliver a fire-protection model that focuses on public education and the role sprinklers can play in life preservation and safety from fire.
In partnership with The Co-operators, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association, HFSC – Canada’s comprehensive website also presents content developed for a number of stakeholder groups including the fire service, homeowners, homebuilders, real-estate agents and insurance professionals.
The site has quick reference fact sheets, videos and case studies. There is even a special section on the website that tailors messages to the fire service and identifies why there is a need for sprinklers and how they work; there is also a large selection of educational resources and tips on how to work with builders, planners, local officials, and the public. As additional support, there are sections focusing on consumers, and professionals such as building officials and water purveyors.
Videos, fact sheets and answers to frequently asked questions are also provided, along with key information about residential sprinkler systems and their life-saving benefits. Many of the resources will be helpful to fire departments that want to include fire sprinkler information in their education programs.
HFSC – Canada also encourages fire departments to take action and enroll in the BUILT FOR LIFE ® Fire Department (BFLFD) program. The program simply asks fire departments to commit to adding home-fire sprinkler messages and informational materials to their existing public-education outreach programs (homefiresprinklercanada.ca/residential-fire-sprinkler-programs/).
The BFLFD program provides an abundance of information, tools and resources for fire service members to teach and educate about the benefits of sprinklers – and they’re all free of charge.
To join the 121 fire departments in Canada that have already registered, visit (homefiresprinklercanada.ca/fire-department-application/.
Lastly, this column is the first of a two-part series pertaining to residential fire sprinklers. In March, Sean Tracey, my predecessor with NFPA and presently chair of HFSC – Canada, will provide information on new tools, resources, initiatives and success stories. Also stay tuned for an upcoming Fire Fighting in Canada podcast!
Shayne Mintz is the Canadian regional director for the NFPA and can be reached at Canada@nfpa.org or by phone at 705 812-2924.
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