The Madison Fire Department administration office lobby includes a banner received from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) through a stipend for outreach. The banner shows how home fire sprinklers save lives, money, water and the environment.
The City of Madison Fire Department was one of 10 fire departments nationwide that participated in the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) pilot program to test new educational material developed for Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to educate about builder/developer home fire sprinkler incentives.
Funded through a FEMA Fire Prevention & Safety grant, HFSC’s new program helps increase awareness about trade ups or incentives that can be offered when all homes in a development are protected with fire sprinklers. According to a national survey of fire service members, 55% were not aware that incentives could be offered in jurisdictions that did not have codes requiring home fire sprinklers. Yet, in a survey of big builders, more than half said they would be interested in protecting homes with sprinklers if incentives were offered.
Incentives may include increased hydrant spacing, no need for expansion of existing water supply, street-width reduction, longer dead-end streets, higher density resulting in additional units, increased street grades and building setbacks.
Fire departments participating in the pilot program were required to review and evaluate the new material and present the material to builders/developers and other stakeholders involved in the development plan review process. The material includes a description of NFPA 13D and types of incentives, along with case studies of how incentives were used. It also includes a downloadable presentation that each fire department could customize.
Fire Marshal Ed Ruckriegel from the City of Madison Fire Department met with stakeholders such as the city planner, developer, builders, and Fire Protection Engineer on a new proposed development in Madison. Ruckriegel said his discussion with the stakeholders was based on how the department could support their development and homes as “The Safest in Madison”.
According to Ruckriegel, the meeting resulted in a good discussion and some incentives were approved. He advises AHJs to get involved in the pre-application process and prepare and find all possible incentives that work in their jurisdiction even before meeting with developers. The discussion should be based on negotiating trade ups or incentives, not trying to pass codes.
“Work with the builder, even if simple things such as waiving some costs such as plan review for instance. This helps to remove the barriers. This includes water utility fee structures for homes as well. Look at ways to help builders see how they can save,” said Ruckriegel.
Ruckriegel is also happy to share that a homeowner currently building a new home is installing fire sprinklers, as the builder, homeowner and plumber all had former experience and know the benefits of having a fire sprinkler protected home.
According to HFSC, home fire sprinklers play a key role in community risk reduction (CRR). When new housing stock is protected, fire departments can continue to provide resources at the higher risk areas in their districts. In addition to protecting occupants, home fire sprinklers play a role in firefighter health and safety.
For more information about HFSC new program and to download the free resources, visit: HomeFireSprinkler.org/CRR.