Daniel and Basia Casara celebrate moving into their specially adapted custom home, protected by a residential fire sprinkler system installed by AFSA member Symons Fire Protection.

Protecting America’s Veterans from Fire

AFSA Partners with Homes For Our Troops to Donate Residential Fire Sprinkler System

Army Sergeant (SGT) Daniel Casara was severely injured when his vehicle flipped after rolling over an anti-tank mine in South Baghdad, Iraq, in September of 2005. Now medically retired, SGT Casara lives with his wife Basia and his mother Elaine in San Diego in a home provided the national nonprofit Homes For Our Troops’ (HFOT) efforts. HFOT is a publicly funded 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans to enable them to rebuild their lives.

In 2017, the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) became the official supplier of fire sprinkler systems in HFOT homes. AFSA members came together to donate materials, time, and talents for the new home, including a residential sprinkler system. As one of the organization’s partners, AFSA provided the fire sprinkler system for SGT Casara’s new home through the efforts of its local member Symons Fire Protection. 

Jamil Shamoon, president of Symons Fire Protection in Poway, California, is proud of Symons’ part in aiding the build through the installation of fire sprinklers. When asked about the project, he said, “HFOT is a worthy cause, and we were honored to be able to participate in the construction of SGT Daniel Casara’s home. Our military sacrifice for us to enjoy our freedoms and prosperity, so giving back is a no-brainer.” And regarding Symons’ participation, he stated that “to know that our team was part of a life-changing event (in a positive way) after what SGT Casara and his wife have been through, fills me with pride. I am thankful that we were invited to be part of this process.”

SGT Casara’s home is a single-level specially adapted custom home from HFOT that is extremely accessible, as it is difficult for him to climb stairs. It features other adaptations, such as a roll-in shower with a bench. Additionally, the home is outfitted with a residential fire sprinkler system. He expressed his deep appreciation of the safety the sprinkler system provides, saying, “AFSA has truly assisted with security and peace of mind.” He also mentioned that at far as the design goes, “the in-ceiling sprinkler system is pretty cool and inconspicuous. Thank you, AFSA!”

 SGT Casara first enlisted in the military while in college in 1994. His career started, and he spent a few years serving in the Illinois National Guard while simultaneously working for the Department of Corrections in Illinois and as a loan officer for a private mortgage company. He went on his first deployment to Iraq to support California’s National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment, in 2005. It was there that he sustained bilateral fractures to his right tibia and fibula, a shattered left tibia, shattered heel and ankle bones to both feet, and a dislocated right hip, according to HFOT.

After becoming medically retired, SGT Casara moved from Illinois to Southern California for the area’s warm weather and strong Veteran community. An advocate for fellow Veterans and his community, SGT Casara ran for U.S. Representative in the 52nd Congressional District in California during the 2018 election. He hopes to educate and inspire others by staying involved. “I have a passion for people,” he says.

From l to r: Casara’s mother, Casara, and his wife Basia are extremely grateful to Homes for Our Troops and AFSA for their new sprinklered home.

On Saturday, May 16, 2020, HFOT presented SGT Casara with the keys to his new home in Ramona, California, during a scaled-down, modified Key Ceremony that adhered to local and regional CDC guidelines due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While the current COVID-19 outbreak prevents HFOT from holding traditional build events right now, it is not delaying Veterans with active builds from moving into their homes. SGT Casara says he and his family are extremely appreciative and grateful to HFOT’s donors and supporters. “This home is life-changing and enables us to affect so many more lives,” he says.

SGT Casara’s home is one of more than 75 active HFOT home-build projects for injured Veterans in various stages of completion nationwide. To date, over 295 homes have been completed! As the exclusive fire sprinkler supplier for HFOT, AFSA, and its local partners, team up to donate and install the fire sprinkler systems. Sprinkler systems are installed in any home where required by law or in any home where the future homeowner requests them. This partnership provides a robust safety addition to the already highly customized homes that HFOT provides to Veterans. 

Approximately 4,000 Americans die and 20,000 are injured in fires each year, according to NFPA statistics. The risk of death or injury from fire is even higher for people with physical, mental, or sensory disabilities. Through this partnership, AFSA hopes to protect these Veterans in their homes, where roughly 80 percent of all fire deaths occur, and decrease their risk of dying in a home fire by 81 percent by installing fire sprinklers.

To find out more or to make a donation, visit hfotusa.org. To learn more about getting involved with AFSA’s HFOT projects, contact AFSA Director of Communications & Social Media Nicole Duvall at nduvall@firesprinkler.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Herring is communications coordinator for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.


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