Sprinkler Talk With Former State Fire Marshal Tom Brace

Last week, several of our employees had the privilege of sitting down with Tom Brace, the state coordinator for the Minnesota Fire Sprinkler Association (MFSA). We brought Tom in to hear about his experience as state coordinator and how we can work to bring more awareness to fire prevention and safety.

As the former state fire marshal for many years, Tom spoke of several personal stories that stick with him regarding home fire causes and deaths. We also discussed recent events such as the tragic Hawaii high-rise apartment fire and how the fire could have been contained if the building had fire sprinklers. He expressed his view that sprinkler installation should go beyond apartments and multi-unit dwellings in Minnesota. Residents should also consider adding them when building or remodeling a home. Tom, himself, has retrofitted his 1930s era home with sprinklers.

For the past year, Clean Response has focused on the benefits of fire sprinklers in residential homes for fire prevention. We sponsor and maintain a sprinkler demo trailer for the MFSA that shows people how fast a fire can take over a room without a sprinkler and how fast a sprinkler can put it out.

As we listened to Tom Brace, we learned that California and Maryland are the only states to require home sprinklers in single-family homes even though the national code requires it. It is our hope that Minnesota lawmakers continue to work with the building industry on a solution to include fire sprinklers in single-family homes, just as they’ve worked over time to add smoke alarms and fire resistant materials. Those efforts have reduced fire-related deaths by the thousands, according to Brace.

“We’ve gone as far as we can with building materials and detectors,” Brace said. “I would rather get a 911 call from someone saying it’s raining in their house than no call at all.”

Every year over 350,000 families are affected by home fires, which can be caused by cigarettes, kitchen cooking, candles, and much more. We have seen firsthand the severity and damages caused by fires, and how in-home fire sprinklers can actually greatly minimize the damage as well as injuries or deaths. Your personal valuables such as documents and photos that have water damage can be preserved through freezing techniques. Unfortunately, valuables affected by fire and smoke are simply lost.

For home fires, the average response time for a fire department is much longer than the time it takes for fire to flash over an entire room (less than three minutes). As the fire spreads to other rooms in a home, it causes greater destruction to the structure.

We are extremely thankful for Tom Brace’s time, and we look forward to bringing more awareness to the value of home fire sprinklers. Click here to read another blog discussing home fires and fire safety tips!

By the way, don’t miss the Governor’s Fire Prevention Day at the Minnesota State Fair, August 25! You can see the sprinkler demo trailer in action and participate in many other activities for all ages.

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