on April 16, 2014 at 8:25 AM
In the first three months of 2014, Pennsylvania has lost 51 residents to the ravages of fire. These numbers are among the highest in the nation during that time period. Fire does not discriminate, and can strike at any time and in any type of home.
This year, through April 1 in the United States, there have been 909 reported civilian fatalities due to fire incidents and 33 fatalities of on-duty firefighters. In 2012, the latest year for which we have official data, property loss was estimated at $9.8 billion in structure fires alone.
Despite all of this loss across the country, states including Pennsylvania are still resisting the concept of installing residential fire sprinkler systems in newly constructed one and two-family homes. Instead, they rely solely on smoke alarms to keep their constituents safe.
While working smoke alarms are an effective way to alert residents to a fire, they require residents to take action and can do nothing to prevent the spread of fire. Our most vulnerable citizens, including children, the elderly and the disabled, may not be able to respond to alarms as others might. Fire sprinklers can protect lives and property by immediately reacting, controlling and even extinguishing a fire.
We urge all citizens to check the batteries in their smoke alarms, educate themselves on the current fire protection requirements, and learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the dangers of fire.
RUSSELL FLEMING, President, National Fire Sprinkler Association, Patterson, N.Y.