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Newly Formed Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition Aims to Curb Fire Deaths in the State

wisconsin fire sprinkler coalitionHome fires in Wisconsin are frequent, and deadly. Over the past decade, Wisconsin has experienced more than 400 civilian deaths, 1,800 civilian injuries, and 1,500 firefighter injuries from homes fires.

Recognizing these alarming rates, fire officials and fire safety advocates recently announced the reestablishment of the Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition on June 26 at the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs’ Association (WSFCA) Annual Conference and Trade Show. The coalition is comprised of the WSFCA, Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association, Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition becomes one of 25 such state coalitions in the United States to formally advocate for home fire sprinklers and join the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative program.

The official announcement was made by Jim Pauley, president of the NFPA, at a press conference that also featured speeches by heads of the fire service associations and Latoya Eskridge, a Milwaukee burn survivor who was burned in a home fire at the age of three.

The coalition will be the common voice of members of the fire service and fire safety industry and the driving force for home fire sprinkler education in the state.

“The original coalition that was formed in 2009 was focused on education, and that’s what the mission is today,” says Gregg Cleveland, chair of the Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition and fire chief of the City of La Crosse Fire Department. “We’re not in a position yet to advocate for [sprinkler] legislation, simply because there’s too much education that needs to be done at the local level. We have some huge hurdles to overcome here. Right now, you can’t legislate residential sprinklers in Wisconsin. In order for that to eventually change, there needs to be a solid understanding of what residential sprinklers are.”

Cleveland notes that educating homebuilders will be the largest task, but an important task. “The fire service views the issue of residential sprinklers and the builders as a winner take all – sprinklers versus no sprinklers. That’s not the world we live in today. We need to engage them, listen to them, and hear their concerns. The long-term goal of the coalition is to be able to sit down and have some real dialogue on sprinklers to understand why it is the builders oppose them so much, then take that information, think about it, and make changes,” he says.

With support from the NFPA and Wisconsin Chapter of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, the timing is right to make a focused attempt at educating the public and legislators.

Learn more about the Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

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One Response to Newly Formed Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Coalition Aims to Curb Fire Deaths in the State

  1. Robert D. Bartels on August 24, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    HI- I’d like to climb aboard with the Wis Fire Sprinkler Coalition….How can I??
    I tried to log into the Sprinkler Times using my NFSA password but it would not accept it.

    Thank You.

    Bob Bartels

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