Plenty to Be Thankful For

When I look back at our great accomplishments during the International Code Council (ICC) Code Hearing in Baltimore last month, I feel elated, proud, but most importantly thankful. Elated for our victory that will better protect our citizens and make...

I believe that for the fire service, our battles in the recent years to adopt the residential fire sprinkler requirement into the construction codes, has been an impetus for change that has played a key role in unifying us all in support of a great cause that saves the lives of our civilians and firefighters alike. And I am thankful for it. The momentum is behind us, and we are now better organized and more determined to better protect our communities.

I believe that we in the fire service are at the tipping point, and finally, yet gradually, we are recognizing the importance of having a much higher priority for fire prevention. We are now acknowledging the pearls of wisdom in the recommendations of the 1973 America Burning Report in reducing our national fire loss. Our recent battles on the residential fire sprinkler fronts, was indeed pivotal and only strengthened our will to take an in-depth strategic look in providing a higher level of service to our communities and better protecting our citizens. This is an invaluable battle-born maturity that might not have come up otherwise, if we weren't confronted by such a well-resourced and determined opponent bent on defeating us every step of the way. We can only be thankful of our opponents that have unified us.

And finally I am thankful for the professionalism of all our peers at the ICC staff that have shown patience and grace throughout this process. It is not over yet by any means. But, the support of our building official friends was heartwarming indeed, and demonstrates the commitment necessary to succeed in the long run.

As public servants, it is our professional obligation as building officials and fire service members alike, to work hand in hand to provide the highest level of fire and life safety and community protection for our public. The ICC Hearing was a great depiction of such cooperation. Not only were all of the fire service organizations in our country unified in their stance; but there were also hundreds of progressive building officials that supported our cause, without whom success would undoubtedly not have been possible. I thank every one of them for their commitment to public safety. I told you we had plenty to be thankful for.

There is one building official though in particular, that I want to personally thank from the bottom of my heart. I have never met him, and I never even knew of him. But the passion and the level of deep commitment to the cause of public safety that Gary Lewis, the building official from Summit, NJ, displayed when he was at the microphone speaking in support of the residential fire sprinklers, demands the highest respect, admiration, and the tip of the hat. My brother Gary, thank you. You are a true silent defender.

AZARANG (OZZIE) MIRKHAH P.E., CBO, EFO, CFO, MIFireE, a Contributing Editor, is the Fire Protection Engineer for the City of Las Vegas Department of Fire & Rescue. Ozzie served on the national NFPA 13 Technical Committee for Sprinkler System Discharge Design Criteria and serves on the IAFC Fire Life Safety Section Board of Directors. He was the first recipient of the IAFC's Excellence in Fire and Life Safety Award in 2007. Ozzie has participated in two Radio@Firehouse podcasts: Six Days, Six Fires, 19 Children and 9 Adults Killed and Fire Marshal's Corner. You can reach Ozzie by e-mail at