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Scottsdale and Sprinklers

Residential Ordinance Celebrates 30 Years

NFPA has produced a new video underscoring the benefits of a home fire sprinkler ordinance in Scottsdale, Arizona, that went into effect 30 years ago. To date, fire sprinklers protect more than half of the town’s homes. In this video, Jim Ford, fire marshal with the Scottsdale Fire Department, discusses how the ordinance has significantly decreased the city’s fire losses without diminishing the necessity of the fire service.

“Scottsdale is a prime example of how fire sprinkler ordinances can combat America’s home fire problem,” says Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “NFPA continues to partner with key allies like Jim Ford to promote the many benefits of home fire sprinklers. Similar to Scottsdale, other communities across America are reaping the life-saving and economic benefits that come with adopting requirements to sprinkler new homes.”

Ford has an array of data underscoring the effectiveness of his town’s sprinkler requirement that went into effect in 1986. The most eye-opening slides from his presentation during NFPA’s 2015 Fire Sprinkler Initiative Summit highlighted more than 20 home fires – electrical, smoking, and cooking were some of the causes – that led to successful sprinkler activations.

Sprinklers now protect more than half of all homes in Scottsdale.  Ford said the average cost per sprinklered square foot for semi-custom homes has been as low as $1.50. During each code cycle, Ford says the ordinance passes with ease.

In the video segment, Ford points out how the ordinance has significantly decreased the city’s fire losses without diminishing the necessity of the fire service. The Scottsdale ordinance, Ford’s presentation at the summit, and the interview video can be viewed online at firesprinklerinitiative.org/Scottsdale.

“What you hear from home builders about Scottsdale is that you can’t pay attention to our statistics because Scottsdale is different,” states Ford. “That is partially true now because we don’t build tract homes anymore. We are now building custom and semi-custom homes up in the mountains. But that’s because we have built out of the tract home style. We still have the history with these areas and the facts and figures to show a residential sprinkler ordinance works,” he says.

“We have to continue giving credit to the political leaders who initially passed the ordinance and kept it in place,” Ford continues. “No bigger decision was made in this city than to pass that ordinance.”

Ford recommends Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) working on this type legislation in their town should get to know their residents and their politicians.

“Educate them, support them, see what they need,” Ford says. “We’ve got all the technical answers to home builders’ concerns. It’s a political thing now. The consumers and politicians have to push these ordinances through.”

Visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative’s Scottsdale webpage at FireSprinklerInitiative.org/Scottsdale and the Scottsdale Fire Department’s Residential Fire Safety Program webpage at scottsdaleaz.gov/fire/residential-sprinkler.

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