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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

15-Year Study on Prince George's Residential Sprinkler Ordinance

College Park, MD…A group of fire safety leaders gathered today to announce the release of a study that will impact fire services and residential sprinkler advocates across the Country. Benefits of Residential Fire Sprinklers: Prince George’s County 15-Year History with its Single-Family Residential Dwelling Fire Sprinkler Ordinance was released publicly today during a press conference held at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. Fire service leaders also used this opportunity to demonstrate the effects of residential sprinklers by conducting a side by side comparison of rooms on fire with only one protected by a sprinkler. This study, released today, shows numerous benefits that residential fire sprinklers provide to the public. Prince George’s County residential sprinkler ordinance has had a significant impact on life safety and reduction of property damage. Prince George’s County experience of suffering no loss of life in a sprinklered home should provide ample justification for other jurisdictions throughout the country to pass similar ordinances. Prince George’s County was the first in the Nation to pass an ordinance mandating the installation of sprinklers in all new residential construction. The law took full effect in 1992 after a 5-year phase-in period.

Click here to see the full report

After reading the report, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson commented to Fire Chief Eugene Jones, "I feel this 15-year study will have a tremendous impact on the fire service and residential sprinkler legislation throughout the Country. During the 15-year period of 1992-2007, not one person died in a sprinklered residence. Many lives and property were saved in Prince George’s County thanks to residential sprinklers.”

The average property loss after a fire with fatalities in an unsprinklered residence was over 10 times more costly than a fire in a fire sprinkler-protected residence.

The speakers at the event included:

Steve Edwards, retired Prince George’s County Fire Chief and currently Director of the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.

Eugene A. Jones, Fire Chief, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department

M.H. Jim Estepp, Retired Fire Chief and former Public Safety Director and County Councilman of Prince George’s County.

Peg Paul, Communications Director, Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition

Bill Barnard, Maryland State Fire Marshal and retired Major with the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department

A demonstration of the effectiveness of residential sprinklers was conducted. Two identically constructed structures were used to illustrate the difference in time and effect between a room without the protection of a sprinkler and one protected by a sprinkler. Each room had a smoke alarm activate at 9 seconds after the first sign of fire. It took about 2 minutes for the unprotected room to reach a flash point. Just 34 seconds into the protected structure a sprinkler head activated and extinguished the fire leaving very little fire damage to the room and its contents.

Many thanks to the members of Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Office of the Fire Marshal, Fire/EMS Training Academy, Community Outreach and the College Park Volunteer Fire Department for their assistance in today’s event. Additionally, thanks to the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office for participating.