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Re: NFPA's statements about fire sprinkler performance statistics

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Charlie:

And here we get the "spin" from the fire sprinkler folks in the article
that you point out.  They do a good job of debunking some of the "errors
of omission" from the otherside, but they do their own spin too.

Notice how they go out of their way to point out that loss of life has
decreased since 1980, but then later point out that sprinklers were only
present in 5.5% of the 1.8 million fires in the "Effectiveness of Fire
Safety Components and Systems" report.  Their clear implication is that to
for their to be "balanced fire protection" there should be more automatic
fire sprinklers, yet loss of life has decreased even with this
"unbalanced" condition.

Thus, they were nice enough to "spin" things a little for their potential
benefit (after all, that is what trade organizations are SUPPOSED to
do...at least from a cynical perspective).

And FWIW, I have heard/seen the steel folks due similar spin in that past.
I have heard on numerous occasions how steel is CLEARLY the better
material for resisting seismic forces and that R/C is a non-ductile
material (or at least not as ductile).  But, then Northridge came along
and who ended up with a little egg on the face...the steel folks.  The
point is that those with a vested interest tend to give you the rosey
picture of their products but neglect to mention the thorns.  Both
concrete and steel folks do it.

I will say that you are at least very up front with your affliations, and
thus your potential bias.  Corley's article was not nearly candid enough
about his ties to the concrete industry (although I knew it since I know
his and who he works for, etc...but the public may not).  Thus, I can
exercise a little "grain of salt" discretion when I hear positions from
either of you.

Regards,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI


On Wed, 10 Sep 2003, Carter, Charlie wrote:

> For those of you who are interested, and related to the postings from
> earlier today (Re: Article from the Chicago Sun-Times), the National Fire
> Sprinkler Association debunking the myths and lies stated in the Corley
> opinion and AFSCC and AFS litter is now available as a download from the
> AISC web site at
>
>     http://www.aisc.org/fire
>
> Look under Other resources at the bottom right for the listing "National
> Fire Sprinkler Association Debunks Passive Protection Myths" This file is
> also accessible at the following direct link:
>
>
> http://www.aisc.org/Template.cfm?Section=Technical_Answers&template=/Content
> Management/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=22568
>
> In this article, John Hall, the NFPA's Assistant Vice President for Fire
> Analysis and Research is quoted extensively. In dispelling the
> AFSCC/AFS/Corley claim that sprinklers fail one-sixth of the time, he
> states: "One-sixth is a statistical summary measure of how often sprinklers
> do not activate, which involves a wide range of circumstances, many of which
> cannot be fairly called 'failure'. For example, sprinklers may not activate
> because the fire is not near the sprinklers in a partially sprinklered
> property. Not all the fires too small to activate sprinklers are coded 'fire
> too small'. And even most of the real 'failures' are due to human error,
> including closing the valves in advance of the fire and changing the hazard
> under the sprinklers without changing the sprinklers to match."
>
> The AFS has also stated that fire safety is declining due to a greater
> emphasis on active fire protection. But the facts show this statement also
> to be false. In reality, fires and civilian fire deaths have declined over
> the past two decades. And a report published in the Journal of Fire
> Protection Engineering by I.R. Thomas from the Victoria Institute of
> Technology concludes that: "It is generally significantly better (and never
> significantly worse) to have sprinklers alone that to have both detectors
> and protected construction."
>
> I hope this information from NFPA is of use to you.
>
> Charlie
>
>
>
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