Friday, December 27, 2013

Sprinklers Praised for Halting Ill. Assisted Living Fire


Crews found the sprinkler extinguished a fire in a chair and table.

Dec. 27--BLOOMINGTON -- A fire sprinkler system is being credited with extinguishing a Christmas Eve fire even before firefighters arrived.
Bloomington Fire Department Public Information Officer Brad McCollum said that at 7:43 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters responded to the third floor of The Downtowner, a 36-unit, eight-story, assisted-living apartment building at 109 E. Market St., and found the apartment's resident in a hallway that was filled with light smoke.
"Upon entering the apartment, they found an overstuffed chair and end table that had sustained damage from a fire that had been completely extinguished by the sprinkler system," McCollum said in a news release.
The resident was transported to the hospital as a precaution, he said.
McCollum said the outcome could have been tragic for the resident if not for the effectiveness of the sprinkler system. The fire could also have been devastating to other residents and the building's owners, he added.
"The capability of a properly installed and maintained fire sprinkler system to contain the spread of fire and in many cases such as this, extinguish the blaze before first responders even arrive on the scene is the reason that so many important structures have these life- and property-saving systems," he said. "Apartment buildings like The Downtowner are not the only types of structures that can and do benefit from these systems. Places of worship, places of business, and most importantly the places that you call home can all be protected by a fire sprinkler system. I encourage you all to learn how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the ravages of fire."
Copyright 2013 - The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

N.J. Senate panel advances bill to require fire sprinklers in most new homes


Christopher Baxter/The Star-LedgerBy Christopher Baxter/The Star-Ledger 
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on December 12, 2013 at 12:45 PM, updated December 12, 2013 at 4:31 PM
TRENTON — A Senate panel today advanced legislation that would require fire sprinklers to be installed in most new homes in New Jersey, a measure backed by sprinkler companies and firefighting agencies across the state, but opposed by the largest builders association.
The bill (S2273), advanced 3-0 by the upper house's Community and Urban Affairs Committee, would require sprinklers in all new single and two-family homes built in New Jersey, but would exempt those connected to wells as well as manufactured homes.
A companion bill was passed 44-30 earlier this year by the state Assembly. The Senate version now goes to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.
"It took a major fire at Seton Hall for us to enact the first mandatory residence hall fire sprinkler law," said Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Camden), a sponsor. "We shouldn’t legislate around tragedies when we can avoid them with commonsense safeguards.”
Fire safety officials overwhelmingly support the legislation, saying the systems have been proven to save lives and limit property damage caused by blazes. But opponents fear adding thousands of dollars to new home construction could hurt the economy.
"It is a difficult choice because we're concerned about cost and concerned about affordable housing, and there is an expense related to it," said Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May), the panel's chairman. "There's also the concern for safety."
The cost of sprinkler systems vary widely, depending on the size of the house and the water source. A 2008 report by the Fire Protection Research Foundation found that sprinklers can cost from 38 cents to $3.66 per square foot, with an average of about $1.61 per square foot.
New homes built in the Northeast in 2010 had an average 2,613 square feet, according to the U.S. Census, making the average price of a sprinkler system about $4,200, which advocates point out is only a fraction of the total home price.
"I don’t see how you can look at the cost here," said Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union), the mayor of Union City. "Somebody’s life has to outweigh the cost. While I respect the economy, it's not a difficult decision for me at all."
A lobbyist for the New Jersey Builders Association, Jeff Kolakowski, said forcing more people to install smoke detectors would do far more to deter loss of life for a fraction of the cost. He noted the bill does not cover existing homes that pose the greatest threat.
"We’re not making the argument sprinklers will not save lives," Kolakowski said. "They certainly will, but under limited circumstances."
Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Middlesex), who abstained from the vote, acknowledged the value of sprinklers but said the decision to spend significant money to install them should be left to homeowners.
"What we’re deciding here is whether we are going to dictate, 'No, you cannot make the decision, you must have it in your home,'" Thompson said. "I prefer to leave that prerogative to them considering the expense."
Lawmakers in New Jersey have advocated for the sprinkler requirements for at least a decade, but with no success. An identical bill last year stalled before a final vote. Similar requirements are already in place in California and Maryland.
A residential sprinkler mandate took effect in Pennsylvania in 2011, but was quickly repealed by the Legislature and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
In 2010, the Christie administration scuttled an effort to require residential sprinklers when it chose not to implement the provision included in the 2009 International Residential Code. The state feared the added cost would impede a housing recovery.


• N.J. Assembly panel passes bill requiring sprinkler systems in new homes
• Editorial: Mandatory sprinkler systems for new homes would save lives
• More Politics News

Friday, December 6, 2013

Homework: Residential sprinklers; TV as holiday decor


Bold colors and whimsical decorating touches emphasize the playful side of holiday celebrations in this mantel styled by the designer Brian Patrick Flynn for

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Published: Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 8:57 p.m.Updated 1 hour ago

Cut Christmas trees must be watered and kept hydrated to last through the holidays and to prevent them from becoming fire hazards. This includes small tabletop trees.
Many trees are shipped from as far as Oregon. Buying early will give you better selection and a fresher tree. Before buying, run your hands through the needles to check for suppleness. Hold the tree upright and drop it from a few inches. Excessive needle drop is a sign of dryness.
Before installing, you will need to remove some of the lowest branches and trim an inch off the bottom of the trunk. Make a square cut, not an angled one. Tree-lot merchants will do this for you, but it is better to do this at home.
It's OK to leave the tree in a bucket of water for several days until you have time to install and decorate it — but monitor the water level. If you are storing it in an unheated porch or garage, make sure it won't tip or blow over. The tree is thirstiest when first cut and will absorb several quarts of water in its first day or two. Keep a close eye on the water level and don't let it drop below the cut, which will gum up if it dries.
When taking it indoors, make a fresh cut.
Additional tips can be found at the website of the National Christmas Tree Association (
“One of the most searched-for terms on is ‘mantel decorating,'” says Brian Patrick Flynn, a Los Angeles-based interior designer and executive producer of's “Holiday House.”
For homes with a flat-panel TV mounted above the mantel, he has a high-tech idea: Burn images to DVD that coordinate with the accessories you lay out on your mantel, then let the DVD run during holiday entertaining.
For one project, Flynn displayed colorful pop art images (including a reindeer by artist Jonathan Fenske) on the TV, and then put colorful items like candy in apothecary jars and brightly colored ornaments on the mantel “to make it all pop.”
Tradition definitely has its place. But it can coexist with bursts of creativity and playfulness.
“It's OK to bust out the old red and green,” Flynn says. “Just change it up somehow to make it more exciting.”
If you really want to keep your home and the people and property in it as safe as possible from fire, consider a residential sprinkler system.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of FEMA, fire sprinklers inside a home reduce the chance of fire death by 80 percent and cut the likelihood of property damage by 71 percent.
Across the United States, hundreds of municipalities and some states require that new residential construction include fire sprinklers. To find out if your locality mandates sprinklers, contact your state fire marshal's office.
According to the fire administration, the cost of a fire sprinkler system, installed, has dropped from an average $1.61 per square foot in 2008 to $1.35 in 2013. Homeowners who have sprinklers should expect a discount of 5 percent to 15 percent on their home insurance.
— Staff and wire reports
Send Homework items to Features in care of Sue Jones, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212; fax 412-320-7966; or email

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Angie from Angies List

from sacbee

Living Smart: Home fire sprinkler systems

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 - 5:07 am
If you really want to keep your home and the people and property in it as safe as possible from fire, consider a residential sprinkler system.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a division of FEMA, fire sprinklers inside a home reduce the chance of fire death by 80 percent and cut the likelihood of property damage by 71 percent.
Industry experts and fire control and prevention pros say sprinklers are a good idea for all homes, whether new or existing, and should be used in combination with smoke detectors.
Across the United States, hundreds of municipalities as well as California and Maryland require that new residential construction include fire sprinklers. However, newly proposed mandates generally face strong opposition from home building organizations, in large part because they add to the cost and complexity of building. To find out if your locality mandates sprinklers, contact your state fire marshal's office.
While interviewing consumers, highly rated sprinkler installers and experts on fire control and prevention, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), our research staff learned that many homeowners have misconceptions about home sprinkler systems:
Perception: Every sprinkler in the house will go off at once. The reality, experts say, is that only the heads that detect fire will activate. Usually, one head will extinguish a blaze before it spreads.
Perception: Sprinkler systems are unattractive. The reality, experts say, is that the heads stay flush against the wall or ceiling until deployed, so they don't greatly affect home aesthetics. A single sprinkler head can cover from 144 to 200 square feet.
According to the NFPA, the cost of a fire sprinkler system, installed, has dropped from an average $1.61 per square foot in 2008 to $1.35 in 2013. The association says the decline is due to government mandates, which increase the number of contractors doing the work. In some parts of California, according to the NFPA, the cost is less than $1 a square foot.
The actual price can vary widely by region. One Chicago-area homeowner, whose town of Libertyville, Ill., requires a fire sprinklers in new construction, paid about $12,000 to have a sprinkler system included in a home built in 2007.
The NFPA doesn't maintain statistics about installing sprinklers in existing homes. However, additional work to cut walls and update existing plumbing means the cost is likely higher than for new construction. One state fire marshal told our team that he retrofitted his 2,400-square-foot home with sprinklers for $3,500.
According to the USFA, homeowners who have sprinklers should expect a discount of 5 to 15 percent on their home insurance.
Experts recommend that fire sprinkler systems should be regularly maintained. This includes checking to make sure that sprinklers aren't blocked, annually opening the drain valve to be sure water flows freely, and arranging an annual inspection by a licensed plumber to be sure the system's backflow prevention device is working correctly.
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie's List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Follow her on Twitter at @Angie_Hicks.

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