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RE: Article from the Chicago Sun-Times

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Oh my.
In my opinion, the article forwarded below to this list server is bogus information that is being promulgated by those with a commercial interest in selling more concrete and fire protection. Unfortunately, the statistics quoted from NFPA are misused. Even NFPA -- the organization's statistics quoted in it -- disagrees with the conclusion that is stated. See below for how.
The author, Dr. W. Gene Corley, is a paid consultant to two industries that stand to gain from the opinions offered. First, his company, Construction Technology Laboratories (CTL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Portland Cement Association (PCA). He is also a paid consultant to the Alliance for Fire and Smoke Containment and Control (AFSCC), which is a group composed of sellers of concrete and fire protection materials. It is particularly unfortunate that nowhere in writing his hired opinions does Dr. Corley acknowledge these conflicts of interest.

and it's Alliance for Fire Safety (AFS) are dirty and shameful. One need only read the May 16, 2003 issue of the AFSCC newsletter to see right through them. Unbelievably, AFSCC President John Valiulis comments on a recently commissioned study state: “Either the results will show what we expect, …. or it will indicate to us that [we are incorrect], in which case we will have to think of a new approach.” Apparently they know the answer they want and are just hunting for the means to push it. Shame!
Dr. Corley has repeatedly claimed that sprinklers fail 16 percent of the time. The use of the word "fail" is not correct. The NFPA statistics quoted state that sprinklers fail to operate 16 percent of the time. The distinction here is important. "Failed to operate" includes an extensive array of cases that are not failures in the strict definition of the word as implied by Dr. Corley. One example is the common case of a partially sprinklered buildings where the fire included in NFPA statistics occurred in an unsprinklered area. NFPA includes those cases as cases of failure to operate -- meaning the system was not activated. NFPA is actively countering the claims made regarding its data by AFSCC.
You will hear arguments that a "more balanced approach" needs to be taken than that in the International Building Code. By "more balanced" they apparently mean you should specify more of the stuff they sell. In fact, the IBC (and NFPA 5000 for that matter) *DO* take a balanced approach: they properly and safely vary the amount of passive fire protective materials required when active fire suppression systems like automatic sprinklers are provided. No system in a building has a more beneficial effect on life safety than a sprinkler system. The proper use of NFPA statistics proves this, as is indicated in much greater detail here:
If that link breaks in the transmission, go to and click into the December 2002 issue for the article: "Structural Fire Protection: Common Questions Answered", which was written by Farid Alfawakhiri of AISC, Chris Hewitt of AISC, and Robert Solomon of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
I recognize that I have a vested interest in the opinions I have just given. However, I believe my opinions would be the same if I did not work in the steel industry. I also believe they are shared by others who do not have an interest either way.
-----Original Message-----
From: Rbengrguy(--nospam--at) [mailto:Rbengrguy(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 7:43 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Article from the Chicago Sun-Times

The following article from the Chicago Sun-Times has been forwarded to you by Rbengrguy(--nospam--at) If you wish to stop receiving these articles, please contact the sender.

Comments from the sender: for your files



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