Q & A with Jason Benn, Assistant Chief, North Perth Fire Department
Q: Why did you choose to install fire sprinklers in your home?
JB: The reason for installing sprinklers in our home is if “I preach it, I need to do it”. “Lead by example if you will”. My family and pets are very important to me and I want them to be protected to the fullest. I have seen what happens to a home when there are no sprinklers; it is devastating for a family to lose everything. Everyone should have smoke alarms; they save lives. They should have an escape plan; it saves lives. However, they are a piece of the pie. When you have alarms, a plan and you add in sprinklers, it completes the pie. You are warned something is happening, you know how to get out and where to go and with sprinklers, you will have suppression right there, combating the fire until the arrival of the fire department. Also, sprinklers use much less water than the fire department would.
Q: Where did you learn about fire sprinklers and their benefits?
JB: I have been a firefighter for 20 years now and have been at different levels/ranks within the fire service. It was during my time as a prevention officer that I really became aware of home fire sprinklers and their benefits. Seeing is believing and that is why I promote the installation of sprinklers in homes. Research shows that sprinklers are proven as the best protection available to minimize home fire injury and death for both civilians and responding firefighters.
Q: Were there any challenges in your municipality?
JB: Our home is the only single-family residence with sprinklers in our community. This was a new concept for our officials, as home fire sprinklers are not required in the building code. While we were building we learned that we could not have windows in our garage due to the close proximity of other homes. I responded by saying, yes, we can have windows if we install sprinklers in the garage as well. It really does not matter who you deal with – a little education goes a long way!
Q: How do you see sprinklers fitting in as a component in a community’s risk reduction models?
JB: So many reasons why installing home fire sprinklers would have an impressive impact on CRR. By the time a phone call is placed to a fire department to report a fire, with sprinklers it is already being dealt with. Sprinklers would reduce fire department budgets (less time on scene, for example); would save insurance company loss payments; and in remote areas, sprinklers eliminate the need for tanker shuttles running back and forth hauling water to the scene, lessening the risk of accidents. Sprinklers would put more money back into the owners’ pockets due to lower insurance rates and so on. It would be a trickle effect in savings.
Communities with sprinklered housing are able to focus firefighting resources on high-risk structures and other critical public safety response activity. When fires occur in sprinklered homes, sprinklers are able to extinguish or control them before the fire department arrives. Fewer responders are necessary to fight those fires, and the hazards they face when they arrive at the fire scene are reduced. Home fires constitute a priority risk in every community, making home fire sprinkler education a vital element of CRR
Q: As an experienced firefighter how do you see the benefits?
JB: have seen both sides of the spectrum. No sprinklers – a complete loss. Installed sprinklers – minor and fixable damage.
Q: How has the sprinkler system been viewed by your insurance provider?
JB: When building our home, I spoke to our agent about our fire sprinklers and other safety features in our home, explaining how ours was different from other homes. He was very positive and thanked us for taking that extra step. Having sprinklers and smoke and CO alarms connected to our security system was very important to me. We received a discount on our fire protection premium.