installing fire sprinklers

Still making inroads . . . patches of success through different approaches

By: Shayne Mintz, Canadian Regional Director, National Fire Protection Association

I had a wonderful opportunity to speak with some very enthusiastic and supportive fire-prevention officers at a recent awards dinner. We had a great conversation about how rare it is we take the chance to recognize and celebrate successes being achieved in the pursuit of residential sprinklers being included in new one- and two- family dwellings.

I was told a story about how a fire chief and the fire department stood by their principles and did the right thing by having the community use the option of land-use planning and the community fire-protection model approach to having a homebuilder include sprinklers in 109 homes in a high-end development.

In the proposal and review stages, fire department staff recognized the project was beyond the boundaries of the department’s targeted response time standard – the municipality also recognized more and more of these types of developments were appearing on the horizon. So, the fire department worked with its legal team to create wording for inclusion in future draft plan guidelines that stated the fire department would accept sprinklers, installed in accordance with NFPA 13D, to satisfy the response time issue and thereby wave any objections to the draft plan.

In this case, the homebuilder also did the right thing by complying with the fire department and the municipality’s requirement. Now this wording is provided to all builders who wish to build outside the municipality’s response-time parameters. In our conversation, it was evident these sprinkler advocates were quite proud of what they were able to achieve, and rightly so.

While the municipality is unable to get sprinklers in all new homes in its jurisdiction right now, it feels this is at least a way to get them in the developments that will be popping up outside its NFPA 1710 response-time boundaries, where they are truly needed.

For your information, here is the wording that was developed and is now in use by the municipality:

“Prior to any servicing or pre-servicing (water mains, hydrants, etc.) of the site or registration of the Plan, whichever comes first, the Owner shall provide a fire safety design plan to address the response time for all lots within the Plan of Subdivision as required by Fire Services Fire Master Plan to the satisfaction of Fire Services and the Director of Planning and Building Services. A clause shall be added to the Subdivision Agreement stating that the Owner shall implement any and all recommendations from the Owner’s Fire Safety Design Plan.”

If you’d like more information or assistance, even if perhaps an introduction to our fire prevention friends in southern Ontario feel free to get in touch.