To the Editor,
In the first three months of 2014, Virginia has lost 30 of its residents to the ravages of fire. These numbers are among the highest in the nation during that time period and reflect the very real dangers that face each of Virginia’s residents when it comes to fire safety. Fire does not discriminate, and can strike at any time and in any type of home.
In the United States there have been 909 reported civilian fatalities due to fire incidents between January 1, 2014 and April 1, 2014. There have also been 33 reported on-duty firefighter fatalities in 2014. 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 Virginia are still resisting the concept of installing residential fire sprinkler systems in newly constructed one and two-family homes and 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 are the only form of proactive fire protection and 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 in their own cities and states, and learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the dangers of fire.
President, National Fire Sprinkler Association