How sprinklers can impact firefighter safety

Wherever you stand in the larger debate, take some time to learn about residential fire sprinklers

Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: Builders may get a temporary reprieve from a requirement to install sprinklers in new home construction in Pa., it emerged this week. Our Editorial Advisor Chief Adam K. Thiel gives his take on the wider issue below.

Pennsylvania's public policy debate over residential fire sprinklers in new home construction is being mirrored across the country as revised model codes are implemented at the state and local levels of government.

While the public debate is often between fire safety advocates and home builders, I know there's still some discussion about the impact of fire sprinklers on the broader fire and emergency services community.

But as I read this story, and others like it, I can't help thinking about all the other stories describing the deaths and injuries of people — both civilians and our fellow firefighters — in residential fires across the nation.

I can also envision a day when these tragedies become unusual, because homes equipped with residential fire sprinklers give firefighters more time to rescue trapped occupants by limiting fire spread, smoke production, and structural degradation.

Make no mistake, beyond their merits for reducing overall life and property loss, residential fire sprinklers have a direct positive effect on firefighter safety and effectiveness.

Wherever you stand in the larger debate, take some time to learn about residential fire sprinklers so you can make informed decisions.

Visit the United States Fire Administration's residential fire sprinkler page.

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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