Is it Time To Move To The Next Level Of Fire Protection – Residential Fire Sprinklers? Fire Chief William A. StewartInternational President IFEFIFireE, CFO, CMM, AdeCToronto Fire Services
Potential Fire Impact What are the odds? The odds of winning a $ million lottery are 1 in 14 million!
What are the odds? The odds of getting hit by lightning are 1 in a million!
What are the odds? The odds of a preventable fire in your home resulting in property loss or injury are 1 in 700!
What are the odds? What are the odds of the fire department showing up promptly if you don’t even know there’s a fire in your home? What are the odds of you escaping unharmed if it’s too late when you discover a fire in your home?
Life Safety Mandate • Every second counts in the timely delivery of Emergency Services to provide the most effective response in saving or mitigating circumstances that could jeopardize the life of the residents we serve • While Toronto Fire Services has been diligent in its pursuit of fire protection, Toronto continues to suffer preventable deaths and injuries from fire
A Mandate For Fire Protection and Life Safety • The large majority of fire deaths and injuries in Toronto are due to residential fires, rather than fires in commercial or industrial properties
The Fire Problem in Ontario • Residential Fatalities in Ontario 1998-2007- 883 (85% in homes) • Residential Fire deaths in Toronto 1998- 2008- 182 (85% in homes)
A Mandate For Fire Protection and Life Safety • We are at greatest risk from fire where we feel most secure – in our homes
Preventable Fatal Home Fires: Ignition Source, 1998 - 2007 Top causes: • Cigarettes - 29% • Arson - 20% • 3. Cooking - 16% • 4. Matches/Lighters - 11% • 5. Candles - 6% • 6. Electrical - 6% • 7. Heating - 4%
Factors Leading to Fatal Fires • While it may not be realistic to prevent these behaviours, fire sprinklers can control the outcome • It is highly unlikely that we can use all non-combustible furnishings in a home, nearly impossible to have non-combustible contents and impossible to rule out human behaviour that will lead to residential fires that end with fatalities
FACTPublic Attitude - Fire Safety NATIONAL STUDYCommissioned by Duracell & CAFC • One in 10 Canadians will experience a fire in their home • 48% of Canadians believe they have almost no chance of having a fire
Flashover Reality • Flashover is a stage in the development of a contained fire in which all exposed surfaces on materials within the room – the furniture, wall coverings, etc., reach ignition temperatures and then everything in the room begins to burn freely
Flashover Reality and Results • In 1980 the National Bureau of Standards documented a flashover to be activated in less than 4 minutes with heavy flames pouring out the full height of the doorway • In 1986 Fire Power documented the fire’s flame to flashover that took only 3 minutes and 41 seconds • In 2001 the National Bureau of Standards documented a flashover in 2 minutes and 12 seconds in the living room
Furnishings Have Changed Old Wooden Chair New Upholstered Plastic Chair
The Way It Was • Dramatic change in the fuels involved over the last 30/40 years • This has changed the way in which fires ignite and spread, p.o.c.’s created, heat release rates and temperatures produced • Difficult to ignite and slow to spread
Reality of Flashovers • We cannot beat flashover because of the increase in the ignition of the combustible materials in a home fire • We must examine alternative compensating options such as residential fire sprinklers
Response Time/Flashover 1995 to 2004 in Ontario: • in 56% of the fatal fires the fire department response time was 5.0 minutes or less.
FACT: Smoke alarm operation limitations 1998 to 2007 Preventable Fatal Fires 47% Smoke Alarm did not operate 49% Dead Battery 14% No Battery 17% No Smoke Alarm installed
Smoke Alarm Limitations • Smoke alarms may not be heard • Units which meet standards may not be audible through closed doors, above other activities, or by hearing or otherwise impaired individuals or sound sleepers • Special units should be installed for the hearing impaired
Promotion of sprinklers or are smoke detectors adequate? Without Sprinklers
Promotion of sprinklers or are smoke detectors adequate? Sprinklers Save Lives
New Realities: Fire Sprinklers • Fatal residential fires most often occur between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m., when victims are asleep. Victims are also disproportionately children and the elderly, who are vulnerable because they are physically less capable of escaping
A Case for Residential Sprinklers • In Vancouver, Canada over 19 years not a single preventable fire fatality in a residential facility with sprinklers • Scottsdale, Arizona USA reports not a single preventable fire fatality over 12 years • The National Building Code is adopted to varying degrees in the Provinces and Territories in Canada
A Case For Residential Fire Sprinklers • New sprinkler systems are environmentally friendly and use only a fraction of the water required by traditional fire fighting methods • Reduced impact on the environment due to limited release of toxic and other hazardous combustion products
New Realities: Fire Sprinklers • Over 400 jurisdictions in North America currently have legislation in place making residential fire sprinklers mandatory
Advocating: Fire Sprinklers • The Ontario Government is legislating sprinklers for all dwellings 3 stories and above as of April 2010. • Fire professionals and associations are advocating for all residential dwellings below 3 stories that have the majority of fatalities, but not under review by the Ontario Government • Advocate on a consistent basis to public, media and political leaders
A Case For Residential Fire Sprinklers • Sprinklers save lives by controlling fires when they’re small • Smaller fires mean a dramatic reduction in lethal smoke production and spread
Myths and Realities of Residential Fire Sprinklers Question: Do sprinklers go off accidentally ? Answer: No. The odds of a sprinkler going off by accident because of a manufacturing defect are 1 in 16 million. You have a better chance of being hit by lightning than for a properly installed residential fire sprinkler to go off by accident.
Myths and Realities Question: What about water damage? Answer: One of the myths about sprinklers is that they will cause significant water damage. While this may seem logical (after all, they spray water), fire records show that the reverse is actually true. Here is why: Continued
Myths and Realities • A residential fire sprinkler typically discharges less than 76 L/min in a fine spray that is quite efficient at fire extinguishment • A firefighter’s hose line on the other hand discharges more than 378 L/min • In general, a sprinkler system will use between 1/10th and 1/100th of the water used by the Fire Department • The combination of the sprinkler’s quick response, the smaller water flow and lower pressure will significantly reduce water and property damage
Myths and Realities Question: Will fire sprinklers leak? Answer: No. Sprinklers and their piping are tested at the pressures two to three times higher than your plumbing system, even though they use the same pressure as your plumbing. Therefore, the chance of a leaking sprinkler is practically non-existent. Like your plumbing pipes, sprinkler pipes are not exposed to cold areas so they are protected from freezing. Continued
Myths and Realities They do not leak because, unlike faucets and other fixtures that are operated often throughout their lives, fire sprinklers remain closed until needed and thus do not receive the wear and tear of daily use.
Intensification and Risk • Property values increase and the availability of new development space in prime areas decreases • Unit stacking, elimination of the setback from the street and active lobbying to reduce the size of the public right of way to provide more space for building in a smaller overall area
Intensification and Risk • Commercial sites are redeveloped into residential units • Industrial units converted to residential and commercial units • The percentage that the building may occupy has moved from the 40% range to nearly 100% in some cases
Negative Factors On Life Safety • Increasing traffic volumes on an unimproved road network • Narrowed streets, traffic calming • Increased demands for on-street parking • All in concert with regularly increasing demands for service
Liability for Fire Services/City? • The lack of consideration given to pedestrians, illegal parking and street furniture are all impediments during an emergency incident • The foregoing has a direct impact on public and Fire Fighter life safety
Reducing Fatality/Property Risk • Working with all levels of government to ensure they understand the benefits of life safety now and over the long term
What can be done? • A major factor in the growth and use of residential sprinklers in the United States, and Vancouver, Canada has been the support of the fire services and local building authorities • Main objective of these bodies has always been the protection of life. This objective must remain constant
What can be done ? • Consideration of National/City Fire Sprinkler policy to require automatic fire sprinkler systems in all new residential buildings • Building Codes be updated with respect to requirements for fire sprinkler systems in residential buildings and amend the Code in a timely fashion
What can be done? • Conduct additional research into the benefits of residential sprinklers that will reveal the significant life saving results • Promote community awareness of the benefits of automatic fire sprinkler systems in homes
What can be done? • Provide accurate information to the public about the life-saving benefits of home fire sprinklers • Promote awareness of homebuilders and other stakeholders on the feasibility and benefits of offering residential sprinklers as an option to homebuyers
Critical to Plan for Life Safety • Ontario and other nations continue to suffer preventable deaths and injuries from fire • Residential fire sprinklers are a logical strategy to improve fire safety for the citizens of Ontario and other nations