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State fire officials push for home fire sprinkler legislation

So far this year, fires have killed 50 people in Missouri and more than 14,000 people nationwide, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

State fire officials said there is one simple solution that would save many lives.

The Fire Marshals’ Association of Missouri is pushing for legislation that would make fire sprinklers mandatory in homes.

The Bolivar Fire Department put on a demonstration for the Missouri Association of Building and Fire Officials Conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort Monday. It showed how in-home sprinkler systems can save lives and minimize damage.

The demonstration showed two identical fabricated rooms in a fire, one with a sprinkler system and one without. The room with sprinklers had the fire extinguished in just 40 seconds. As for the other side-

“What would’ve happened with this fire had it grown faster, the trash can would’ve set fire, it would’ve lit the curtains, and within five minutes, the room would’ve been well-involved,” Fire Marshals’ Association of Missouri President Gene Robertson said.

Robertson said the big misconception about home sprinklers is that they are too expensive. But a recent study by the National Fire Protection Association showed they can be installed for around $1.50 per square foot.

“We’re trying to make our legislators understand that this stuff is important,” Robertson said. “We’re losing too many people to fires that we shouldn’t be losing.”

Robertson said sprinkler systems can decrease the damage of a home fire from $50,000-$60,000 down to about $5,000 or $6,000.

He said the Home Builders Association of Missouri has put the sprinkler initiative on hold until 2018.

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