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Fire service weighs in on new Minnesota sprinkler requirement

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By Fred Durso, Jr.

Sprinkler Supporters: Tom Thornberg (left) and Tom Clark with the International Association of Fire Fighters

NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative team is exhibiting at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) this week for the purposes of informing elected officials on the many benefits of home fire sprinklers. Since NCSL is taking place in Minnesota, where state lawmakers recently published a new mandate requiring sprinklers in new homes larger than 4,500 square feet, we decided to chat with fire service officials also at the conference to get their take on the new requirement.

Standing near a fire truck rolled onto the exhibit floor, Tom Clark, a Minnesota firefighter there on behalf of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), praised the coordinated effort of the state’s fire service that backed the sprinkler legislation. “If you go in as one big force, it makes a big difference when the legislators start asking questions…and you all have the same answers,” he told NFPA.

A sprinkler advocate, Clark also practices what he preaches. When he had his new home built within a subdivision, “I told the builders I want [a sprinkler system],” he says. “They gave me some flak for that, but I was insistent on it. What’s frustrating is that I talked to my neighbors. Had they been offered a sprinkler system, they said they would have put one in. They weren’t even given the option.”

Tom Thornberg, Fifth District Vice President with IAFF and NCSL attendee, praised the new requirements and noted that like NFPA, IAFF also supports residential sprinklers. While Thornberg would like to see all new one- and two-family homes in his state sprinklered, he says the legislation is great first step. “It’s been proven–residential fire sprinklers save lives and property.”

Source:: NFPA – Fire Sprinkler Initiative

Michael S. Williams

Michael S. Williams

Williams founded the Fire Services Training Institute in 1995 to find solutions to the challenges confronting the volunteer fire service. He has been an active member of California State Firefighters Association (CSFA) since 1994, having served on the volunteer and public relations committees, and as a southern division deputy director. He sits on several local organizations including the Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council, the Tri-Counties Training Officers Association, Santa Barbara Chapter of CAER and is a founding member of the Santa Barbara PIO group Emergency Public Information Communicators (EPIC). He has been the author of many articles and a columnist for a local newspaper on public safety matters. He is also the co-host of Community Alert on KZSB AM-1290 in Santa Barbara. Williams has been a member of the California State Board of Fire Services since 2008. Prior to becoming involved in the volunteer fire service, Williams was a California police officer for 12 ½ years and a POST certified Field Training Officer. He is a licensed private investigator and security consultant specializing in self-insured, government and insurance defense assignments.


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