Home Safety Council Sees Pennsylvania’s Protection of New Homes with Fire Sprinklers as a Hard-Won Battle for Consumer Protection

Citing the fact that more than 80% of fatal fires occur in residential properties, the nonprofit Home Safety Council (HSC) today applauded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for its recent action to adopt the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), which includes a requirement for the installation of fire sprinkler system protection in all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses.

“Despite organized opposition to adoption of this code, fire and life safety advocates in Pennsylvania have prevailed in a battle that quite literally had lives at stake,” says HSC President Meri-K Appy. “This was a vital and hard-fought effort to ensure that life-saving fire sprinkler technology will protect more people where they are most vulnerable: the home.”

The Home Safety Council focuses on the prevention of accidental injury at home, which causes more than 20,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Fire is the third-leading cause of these preventable tragedies.

“Since HSC was established, we have advocated for comprehensive home fire safety, emphasizing the importance of a system of fire safety,” Appy says. According to HSC, such a system includes prevention, detection and early warning with smoke alarms, escape planning and practice, and fire control with sprinkler system installation.

Appy says that while the entire system is vital, fire sprinklers present important advantages that translate into saved lives when fire strikes. The technology works automatically, protecting the home and occupants even if they are sleeping. In the very early stages of a fire, the high temperature (typically 135°F to 150°F) activates the nearest sprinkler. The flowing water controls the heat, flames and toxic smoke, which gives occupants time to escape, unharmed. Sprinklered structures also are far less dangerous to first responders.

“Too often, the focus is on bogus myths about sprinklers and not on the tremendous asset that they actually present, especially to high-risk young children, older adults, and people with many types of disabilities,” Appy says. “What people should know is that a real fire moves through a house with incredible speed, spreading poison smoke and intense heat. No other protective technology can do what fire sprinklers can.” Pennsylvania’s sprinkler requirement for one- and two-family homes will be in effect beginning January 1, 2011. Sprinklers will be required in newly constructed townhouses immediately.

HSC offers a wide range of home fire safety information and downloads on its Web site: www.HomeSafetyCouncil.org.