Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fire Marshal Concedes on High Rise Sprinkler Mandate


By Phil Rogers
|  Friday, May 30, 2014  |

The State Fire Marshal is throwing in the towel.
Declaring in a statement, “I believe that any new sprinkler mandate should include open and full discussions with all stakeholders,” Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis essentially conceded he could not unilaterally implement a change of state rules that would mandate fire sprinklers in all residential high rises in Chicago, as well as new construction of single family homes, as he proposed last summer.
Fanned by condo organizations and realty groups who warned of exhorbitant installation costs, the proposal faced a firestorm of resistance from high rise residents.  Fire officials across the state, who supported Matkaitis, called the cost estimates “scare tactics” that used inflated numbers. 

But the damage was done.  The Fire Marshal encountered stiff political resistance in Springfield, and eventually withdrew the proposal.
“We reached this resolution because we have a common goal to determine and implement the most effective and practical fire safety measures in our state,” said State Representative Sara Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat.  “Thousands of people have sent clear messages to the Fire Marshal over the past few months, that a unilateral, statewide sprinkler mandate is bad public policy.  We now have assurance that any future fire sprinkler proposals will be considered with full transparency and open discussion.”
“As long as I am Fire Marshal, I intend to work with local government officials, public safety officials, and all stakeholders to pass any new sprinkler laws through the General Assembly,” Matkaitis wrote.  “I look forward to continued conversations with all stakeholders, on how we can achieve the goal of improving fire safety in Illinois.”
Most observers believe the likelihood of political support for a significant code change appears slim.  Industry lobbyists pressed hard against the proposed new rules last year.  And the City of Chicago has long ignored a state fire code which already mandates fire sprinklers in residential buildings, claiming home rule.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fire Officials Urge Texans to Get Fire Sprinklers

from nbc

By Tim Ciesco
|  Friday, May 23, 2014  |  Updated 5:51 PM CD

Justina Page knows first hand how devastating a fire can be.
In 1999, she lost her Houston home and her 22-month-old son in one, and was badly burned in the process.
Now, she says not a day goes by that she doesn't wish she'd had fire sprinklers.
"After all the suffering, after all the grieving, and all of the things that we had to go through - losing every single thing we had - it was time to get to work and advocate for those who still have a chance," said Page.
She's now joined forces with state and local fire officials to help them launch a new campaign to raise awareness about the need for fire sprinklers in homes.
"No fire department can match an automatic sprinkler system," said State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy.
Wednesday, the group was in Arlington to present at a building professionals conference at UT Arlington. They did a live fire demonstration, lighting fires in two identical rooms they built - one with a sprinkler system, the other without.
In the room that had fire sprinklers, the fire was under control about 30 seconds after it started. The room had minimal damage.
The room without fire sprinklers was fully engulfed within two minutes.
"It's fully involved and the fire department has just now been notified [in that two minutes]," said Connealy. "They haven't even got en route. And we still have to deploy those hose lines."
Connealy said he hopes demos like these stress the difference a sprinkler system can make and urges people that getting them installed in their homes is a no-brainer.
"People in this day and age, there's no excuse for dying in a fire," said Connealy. "We have the technology to overcome it. We've had it for many years. We just need to make sure that people understand why sprinklers are important."
Page hopes people get the message before it's too late.
"Fire doesn't discriminate," said Page. "It could happen anytime, anywhere for any reason. And if we have a solution, I feel by all means we ought to use it."
Connealy recently retrofitted his own home with a sprinkler system for about $4.50 per square foot. He says if you get one installed when your home is being built, it can cost less than $2.00 per square foot

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Former Pleasant View fire chief lands new job

from the tennessean 

The Ashland City Times11:04 p.m. CDT May 13, 2014

ShaneRay (2).jpg

Former Pleasant View fire chief and mayor Shane Ray has been named executive vice president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA).
Ray, who lives in Columbia, S.C., will begin his new position on July 16.
“I look forward to the opportunities and challenges of this position and am excited to return to the NFSA team,” Ray said in a news release. “My passion for fire prevention and a non-typical approach is long standing, and there is no better tool in the fire service toolbox than fire sprinklers. I believe in the application of fast water, and it doesn’t get any faster than the performance of fire sprinklers.”
The NFSA’s mission is to protect lives and property from fire through the widespread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept.
Ray’s experience will serve him well as he re-joins a team that he served with from 2006-2010, prior to becoming the South Carolina Fire Academy superintendent and later the state fire marshal.
He began his fire service career in 1984 and worked through the ranks of career and volunteer organizations serving from firefighter to chief. He also served six years as mayor of Pleasant View.
Ray currently serves as South Carolina state fire marshal, with his last day being July 1.
"We are excited for Shane to re-join our team,” said Russ Fleming, NFSA president. “NFSA understands the important role that the fire service plays in our fire protection field, and we are happy to have someone with Chief Ray’s credentials on our leadership team."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

UL Warns of Counterfeit Fire Sprinklers

from moneylife

15th May 2014 17:56 IST

UL Warns of Counterfeit Fire Sprinklers

IL, Northbrook, United States (Underwriters Laboratories) 

The following is a notification from UL that the Fire Sprinklers identified below bear counterfeit UL Certification Marks for the United States and Canada. The Fire Sprinklers have not been evaluated by UL to the appropriate Standards for Safety and it is unknown if the Fire Sprinklers comply with any safety requirements.
Although the fire sprinklers wrench boss is marked “TYCO” and the thermo bulbs are marked “JOB F5” the fire sprinklers were not manufactured or labeled by Tyco and the thermo bulbs were not manufactured or labeled by Job, GmbH., affiliates or agents.

Name of Product:  Upright TY3151
                              Pendent TY3251
                              Horizontal Sidewall PS007

Location: The sprinklers have been found in Vietnam and India. UL has not received reports of these counterfeit sprinklers in other locations.


Counterfeit Fire Sprinkler MarkingsAuthentic Fire Sprinkler Markings
UL in a circle, 155°F/68°C, TY3151cULus in a circle, 155°F/68°C,SU, TY3151
"TYCO" cast into both sides of the“TYCO” incised on one side and the year of
wrench bossmanufacture on the opposite side of wrench
Deflector material zinc plated steelDefector material brass with chrome or
(magnetic)painted white (non-magnetic)
5mm glass bulb –Job F55 mm Geissler glass bulb – “G” between two
 triangles on one side and lot number on the
 other side

Photographs of the TY3151 fire sprinkler with counterfeit Marks:

On the product: The product bears counterfeit UL and TYCO Marks and the following information on the pendent TY3251 sprinkler. (Location  India)

Counterfeit Fire Sprinkler MarkingsAuthentic Fire Sprinkler Markings
cULus in a circle on the side of thecULus in a circle, 155°F/68°C,SP, TY3251 on
frame. 68C, SSP, on the deflectorthe deflector
"TYCO" cast into both sides of the“TYCO” incised on one side of wrench boss
wrench boss 
Deflector material zinc plated steelDefector material brass with chrome or
(magnetic)painted white (non-magnetic)
5mm glass bulb –Job F55 mm Geissler glass bulb – “G” between two
 triangles on one side and lot number on the
 other side

Counterfeit Fire Sprinkler MarkingsAuthentic Fire Sprinkler Markings
UL in a circle, 155°F/68°C, TY3251cULus in a circle, 155°F/68°C,SP, TY3251
"TYCO" cast into both sides of the“TYCO” incised on one side of wrench boss
wrench boss 
Deflector material zinc plated steelDefector material brass with chrome or
 white (non-magnetic)
5mm glass bulb –Job F55 mm glass Geissler bulb – “G” between two
 triangles on one side and lot number on the
 other side

Counterfeit Fire Sprinkler MarkingsAuthentic Fire Sprinkler Markings
UL and cUL in a circle, 55°F/68°C,cULus in a circle, 155°F/68°C, Sidewall, R,
without flow direction arrow, PS007TOP, WH, Q-71, HSW, SIDEWALL, FLOW,
 flow direction arrow, TY3331
"TYCO" cast into both sides of the“TYCO” incised on one side and the year of
wrench bossmanufacture on the opposite side of wrench
Deflector material zinc plated steelDefector material brass with chrome or
(magnetic)painted white (non-magnetic)
5mm glass bulb –Job F55 mm Geissler glass bulb – “G” between two
 triangles on one side and lot number on the
 other side

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dayton says he would veto bonding bill over fire sprinkler provision


Published May 12, 2014

ST. PAUL – Gov. Mark Dayton dropped a legislative bombshell Monday when he announced that he is willing to give up $846 million in public works projects around Minnesota if legislators insist on overturning a state requirement for fire sprinklers in larger new homes.

By: Don Davis, Forum News Service, INFORUM


ST. PAUL – Gov. Mark Dayton dropped a legislative bombshell Monday when he announced that he is willing to give up $846 million in public works projects around Minnesota if legislators insist on overturning a state requirement for fire sprinklers in larger new homes.
“I will veto the bonding bill if it has that provision in it,” Dayton said. “I will not let them ram it down my throat.”

The rare veto threat came over a provision in a Senate public works bill that would forbid state officials from requiring fire sprinkler systems in homes larger than 4,500 square feet. The current building code requires sprinklers for the larger homes.
Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, D-Plummer, told members of his bonding committee last week that requiring sprinklers would drive up housing costs, and many well systems in rural areas could not provide enough water.

Dayton, a Democrat, said he opposes the sprinkler prohibition and opposes putting it in a public works bill, funded by the state selling bonds.

The governor’s comment came out of left field for legislators.

“I’m absolutely stunned,” Sen. Carla Nelson, R- Rochester, said. Her community has a $35 million civic center project in the bonding bill.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, appeared happy with the comment. “That would signal his demise as a candidate for governor.”
Dayton is running for his second term this year, and politicians usually want a bonding bill on their record in a campaign.

The comment also took Democrats off guard.

“I am going to have a conversation with the governor about it,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, said.
Bakk and House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, knew Dayton opposed the sprinkler prohibition but did not know he would veto the entire bill over it.

“Putting policy like that in a bonding bill is not done very often, if at all,” Thissen said.
Bakk said that as of Monday afternoon he was not willing to take out the sprinkler provision.

The bonding bill is supposed to be the main work of even-year legislative sessions. With the constitutional deadline for taking votes this year coming up Sunday, neither house has considered bonding.

Key legislators have been meeting to work out a bill House and Senate Republicans and Democrats can support. That has not happened and at mid-afternoon no negotiations had been scheduled Monday.

“My calendar is open,” said Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, the lead Republican on the House bonding committee. Thissen and Bakk said they probably would need to get involved and push negotiators to draw up a final bill.

“We will have to get engaged a little more to kind of push it over the line,” Thissen said.
Dean said there are some major differences between what the House and Senate bonding committees propose. The biggest one, he said, is a southwest Minnesota water project.

“Lewis and Clark is a big deal,” Dean said. “We think that should be the first project in and not the last project in.”

The project should receive the nearly $70 million it needs to move water to residents in the Luverne and Worthington areas, Dean said. Dean, like other Republicans, said that museums, theaters and other arts projects should get less money so Lewis and Clark can be fully funded.
The overall bonding bill would fund projects such as state-run college construction and repairs, developing Vermillion State Park, paving some state trails, building or expanding civic centers, funding flood prevention projects and other items in most of the state.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Push to dump sprinkler mandate upsets fire chiefs


Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014 8:41 am | Updated: 10:26 am, Thu May 8, 2014.
ST. PAUL — Fire chiefs are blasting a provision advancing in the Minnesota Senate that would prohibit the state from requiring that fire sprinklers be installed in new homes.
Tucked within the Senate's construction borrowing bill is a measure that would prevent a fire sprinkler mandate from being added to the state's building codes. The International Residential Building Code requires the installation of fire sprinklers. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry last year approved a new rule requiring fire sprinklers be built in homes that are 4,500-square-feet or larger.
Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, sponsored a bill to prohibit a sprinkler mandate and pushed to get it into the Senate's bill. He and other supporters argue it would boost the cost of building homes, hurting the state's construction industry. He added that sprinklers would do little to prevent fire fatalities.
"Any fire chief in this building at this moment knows people die of smoke inhalation. They do not die of being incinerated," Senjem said. "The idea that we need sprinklers to save lives is almost ridiculous. We need smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors."
But Steven Jurrens, president of the Minnesota State Fire Department Association Region 15, which represents more than 80 fire departments in southeast Minnesota, disagrees. He cited research that shows the risk of dying in a home fire drops by 80 percent when sprinklers are present.
"Jobs are one thing but life safety, making sure we don't have people die in our communities, is really a high priority as well," Jurrens said.
He said newly-constructed homes are made from more flammable material, giving residents less time to safely escape their homes in the case of a fire. That's especially critical in rural Minnesota where many cities rely on volunteer fire departments instead of full-time departments with instant responses.
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, offered an amendment to the Senate bonding bill seeking to strip out the prohibiting on a fire sprinkler mandate.
"You are basically holding us hostage to support a provision that we have never supported in order to support a larger package that has other items that are really, really important to us," Dibble said.
He also said it makes no sense to include the provision in the $846 million construction bill.
But the bill's author, Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, defended the provision. He said the measure includes millions of dollars in housing money and a sprinkler mandate would increase the cost of those projects. He also noted that such a measure has the potential to put Minnesota's construction industry at a competitive disadvantage because surrounding states had not adopted a sprinkler mandate.
Ultimately, the committee defeated Dibble's amendment to strike the fire sprinkler language from the bill on a voice vote. But the battle over the issue is likely far from over. The bill still needs to clear the Minnesota Senate. The House's bonding bill also does not contain this language.
Also worth noting is DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's opposition to getting rid of a sprinkler mandate. He previously vetoed two bills that would have gotten rid of the mandate. In a 2012 veto letter, Dayton wrote, "I take very seriously the concerns which fire safety professionals have expressed about the safety of home residents, their properties, and the lives of the men and women who courageously risk their lives to fight those fires."
But builders in the state are pushing hard to block a fire sprinkler mandate. That includes Rochester Area Builders.
Matt Limoges, the group's public affairs director, said such a sprinkler mandate on average adds $13,000 or more to the cost of a home. He added that since the state in 2000 required that new homes be built with hard-wired smoke detectors, there have been no fire fatalities in these homes.
And while he said it is true that construction materials used in new homes are more flammable, he said there are options for reducing the risk of floors caving in due to a fire by sheetrocking the ceiling of the basement. In addition, more than 40 states have chosen not to adopt the fire-sprinkler mandate.

"Home indoor sprinkler systems aren't a bad idea," Limoges said. "We just don't think they should be mandated by the government for all new construction."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Four dead in fire at Florida home of former tennis pro James Blake

from reuters

ORLANDO, Florida Wed May 7, 2014 3:19pm EDT

Flames engulf a house owned by former tennis pro James Blake in this handout photograph provided by the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office in Tampa, Florida May 7, 2014. REUTERS/Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters

(Reuters) - Four people were found dead on Wednesday in a burning Tampa, Florida, mansion owned by former pro tennis player James Blake, police said.
Blake was not inside when firefighters arrived on Wednesday morning, said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department. Officials said Blake was renting the home to someone else.
"The fire has kept popping up," Carter said. Referring to the home, she added, "It's destroyed."
"James was not in Florida yesterday. The house does belong to him, but it is rented," said Jennifer Bozzelli, a spokesperson for IMG sports agency, which represents Blake.
Firefighters told detectives they saw fireworks inside the property, according to a sheriff's statement.
A 911 caller reported an explosion and fire at the home at 5:45 a.m., the statement said. The house, in the exclusive Avila Golf and Country Club, continued to smolder Wednesday afternoon.
An investigation by sheriff's investigators and the county fire marshal is under way to determine the cause of the blaze and how the four people died, officials said. The sheriff's department is still trying to identify the bodies.
Blake, 34, who retired in 2013, reached the semi-finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and James Dalgleish)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Require sprinklers in off-campus student housing to avoid tragedy

from indystar

IndyStar6:05 p.m. EDT May 6, 2014

2014 389104063-West_Lafayette_Apartment_Fire_INLAF101_WEB288905.jpg_20140424.jpg

n April 24 a fast-moving fire spread through the Riverbend Apartments in West Lafayette, claiming the life of 22-year-old Cody Day, who was spending the night at a friend’s apartment. The apartments are near Purdue University and house mostly Purdue students. This is the second life claimed by fire in a Purdue off-campus housing unit this academic school year. Scott Notary, a Purdue senior, was killed on Nov. 16, 2013, in a fire at his West Lafayette apartment.
The structure at South Riverbend did not feature an automatic fire sprinkler system because they were not required by code at the time it was built. This left residents to rely on smoke alarms to alert them to danger with enough time to escape. Witnesses recall that a passer-by who saw the flames alerted residents to the fire, many of whom were fast asleep. As a former fire chief in Fort Wayne I can tell you honestly that while smoke alarms do save lives there are many examples where notification of a fire occurrence does not happen fast enough for residents to escape. Sadly, this appears to be one of those cases.
If this property were built today, the building codes would require a fire sprinkler system. Fire sprinklers actively respond to a fire, one sprinkler head at a time, controlling or extinguishing flames and providing occupants with enough time to safely evacuate a structure. Parents should ask if the unit their child will be staying in is properly protected with fire sprinklers. Existing properties, especially those that house students, can be retrofitted with fire sprinkler systems in order to protect our children’s lives and property. When students, parents and universities start demanding that student housing structures be protected by fire sprinkler systems we will see a reduction in life and property loss.
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrible tragedy along with their family and friends.
Ron Brown
Great Lakes Regional Manager
National Fire Sprinkler Association
Bridgewater, N.J.