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David A. LaFond: Take time to learn fire safety measures

To the editor:

The recent fire in Northampton at the Meadowbrook Apartments July 22 highlights the importance of a nation-wide debate as to the cost-effectiveness of states adopting the current International Code Council building requirement of installing residential fire sprinkler systems in all newly constructed homes.

Fortunately, no people were lost in this fire. However pets are an important part of our lives and it is sad to have any living thing perish in this fashion. The heroic efforts of the brave firefighters who responded to the scene and were able to control and eventually extinguish the flames ensured that any affected persons lost only property and not their lives. Too often that is not the case.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2011 in the United States, residential fires were responsible for 85% of the total 3,005 civilian fire related deaths. There were an additional 15,635 civilian injuries and a total of $11.7 billion nationally in property loss in structure fires.

It is this cost with which we concern ourselves and not the $1.61 national average per square foot that these life and property saving devices cost builders to install. It is with the human cost in mind that we ask for you to check the batteries in your smoke alarms, educate yourself on the current fire protection requirements in your own city and state, and learn how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the ravages of fire.

David A. LaFond

National Fire Sprinkler
Association, Holyoke

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