September 11, 2016
Letter to the Editor:
As we get ready to head back into the home heating season, now would be an appropriate time to review the destruction that fire has had on Delawareans and their homes this year so far. Unfortunately the year started with a devastating fire in Wilmington that took the lives of two young children, critically injured their mother and displaced other family members. The cause of the fire has been attributed to items stored too close to a space heater.
Through the rest of the winter, three large residential fires in Sussex County caused close to three million dollars of damage. Multiple fire companies responded to each of these fires, and required other fire companies to cover for those working at the fire locations. One of the fires, in Selbyville, destroyed one home and damaged two others.
Spring and summer have seen major residential fires in Magnolia, Middletown and Brookland Terrace. These fires displaced at least ten families and caused over $1.3 million in damages. One firefighter was burned at the Brookland Terrace fire, and was hospitalized. Ryan Bradford, a resident of the Paris Villa neighborhood near Magnolia died from smoke inhalation.
Fortunately we are always able to change and improve on the ways to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our prized possessions. Messages about the useful life of smoke alarms will be presented during this year’s Fire Prevention Week, October 9 through 15.
The recently released Operational and Administrative Analysis of the Dover Fire Department from the Center for Public Safety Management includes the recommendation that the City of Dover adopt the residential fire sprinkler requirements of the 2015 edition of the International Code Council (ICC) International Fie Code. The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office has developed and published an excellent educational brochure on residential fire sprinklers titled “Benefits of Home Fire Sprinklers”. The brochure is available on the website www.statefiremarshal.delaware.gov. The Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition actively supports these educational efforts and provides additional information through the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.
Delawareans and those moving to Delaware must be more active and proactive with regards to home fire safety. Within eight months of this year, we have suffered injury, death and multimillion dollar damages. Also, as Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company Chief Brain Martin expressed in May, volunteer fire company staffing is an ongoing and ever increasing problem.
The means to protect ourselves are already provided. We must pay more attention to our personal environments, properly maintain protection devices, and now, request and install residential fire sprinklers in new homes. There is no excuse to expose anyone in Delaware to the dangers and devastation of fire.
Paul W. Eichler
Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition