NFPA Journal - September/October 2012 - (Page 10)

>> mail call IN YOUR OWN WORDS “suppression needs to be considered for many of these facilities. What most barn owners fail to comprehend is the actual cost of a sprinkler system, the benefits to the barn owner/operator, and the risk reduction to the stock.” —Irvin Lichtenstein STATUE OF LIBERTY safety MakeoVer fatalities report 2011 FIREFIGHTER + FIRE ADAPTED CoMMUnities one year after the indiana state fair tragedy, a new foCUs on eMergenCy preparedness July/August 2012 life safety at the nation’s oldest ballpark FENWAY THE AuTHORITy On FIRE, ElEcTRIcAl & BuIldIng SAFETy THE REBIRTH OF 7-12_Cover.indd 2 6/22/12 4:33 PM Sprinklering animal facilities, redux I read the letter by Paul M. Haas [“Not so fast on requiring sprinklers for poultry operations,” July/August] regarding NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities. I am a volunteer firefighter and a public safety consultant, as well as a horse owner. I have been to a few barn fires and have consulted on prevention, which is far more effective than suppression. even so, suppression needs to be considered for many of these facilities. What most barn owners fail to comprehend is the actual cost of a sprinkler system, the benefits to the barn owner/ operator, and the risk reduction to the stock. Many commercial training barns contain millions of dollars worth of non-racing show animals. There are also working horses, police horses, and of course race horses. All of it is worth protecting using prevention as well as suppression. Many commercial barns are engineered using the least amount of material possible, and the cheapest material available. They are then filled with sawdust, straw, green hay, dust, and other fuels. Prior to the current version of the codes, these buildings were exempt from local permit and review processes as utility buildings. In many cases, no building permit was required, let alone inspections. In Pennsylvania the building code sections requiring farm buildings to be permitted and inspected for code compliance were rolled back. This also applied to farm stands where farmers operated retail grocery stores along the road. I have no idea what 23,000 chickens are worth before they get to the supermarket, but they must be worth a reasonable amount. The employees who work in these chicken production facilities also have an inherent value. It is doubtful if a sprinkler system would cost more that the total loss of the building, chickens, staff, and the lost income while rebuilding. This is not a PeTA issue—it is pure economics. even if the poultry cannot be sold for human consumption after the fire, the availability of the buildings and staff to restart production must have a value. This would also apply to dairy barns where replacing the equipment would involve a long and costly process, in addition to the expense of milking a herd somewhere else. It is not the AHJs that will enforce NFPA 150. In some cases, they may lack the authority to do so because of statewide building codes that exempt farm buildings from the building construction standards. [Editor’s note: Requirements vary from state to state, but in general certain agricultural buildings may be exempt from code provisions.] It will be the insurance companies that either refuse to insure these businesses, or charge rates that reflect the true risk. It will be credit sources that will make the buildings securing the loans comply. In the case of boarding operations, it will be the owners of the boarded animals who want a safe environment for their pets or livestock. Lastly, it will be the courts, where juries will be told about the best practices contained in the standard and the losses incurred by not following it. If we truly want every risk to be sprinklered, we cannot allow exemptions. We must also present evidence that the tapping fees and standby fees that water utilities charge for sprinklers are not justified and that regulators should remove those fees from water company charges. This will further improve the risk-benefit ratio and make fixed protection even more attractive. IrvIN LIcHTeNsTeIN president, NCS, Inc. Wyncote, pennsylvania TELL US WHAT YOU THINK Email your letters to, or mail them to Editor, NFPA Journal, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169. Please include your title, company or organization affiliation, and where you’re based. NFPA Journal reserves the right to edit letters for content and length. 10 NFPA JOURNAL SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012 Photograph: Shutterstock

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - September/October 2012

NFPA Journal - September/October 2012
First Word
Mail Call
In a Flash
Heads Up
Structural Ops
In Compliance
Electrical Safety
Wildfire Watch
Lessons of Comayagua
After Waldo Canyon
Catastrophic Multiple-Death Fires in 2011
Fire Loss in the United States in 2011
Section Spotlight
Research + Analysis
What’s Hot
Looking Back

NFPA Journal - September/October 2012