To the Editor,
At the time that I am writing this most of the nation knows of the tragedy that befell Boston on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. A structure fire in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood that was fueled by strong winds quickly grew out of control and Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy were tragically killed in the line of duty. More than a dozen other first responders were also injured attempting to quell the blaze. Fortunately, the city of Boston is no stranger to adversity. In fact, there might not be a place in the world that better represents the strength of a community that unites during difficult times. For the families of these brave and selfless heroes I pray that they find solace in the revered halls of this great city and in the warm embraces of family and friends.
What Boston and other Massachusetts residents might not know, however, is that just two weeks ago legislative bills that would have offered both citizens and first responders added protection from the ravages of fire were banished from legislative consideration and sent to a study committee where it will likely never be discussed again. Bills HB 2121, HB 2123 and HB 2129 which are otherwise known as An Act to Prevent Fire Deaths and Enhance Fire Protection, would have provided local governments the option to require the installation of fire sprinkler systems into newly constructed homes. The bills aim simply to prevent casualties, devastating injuries and massive property damage in the event of a fire. The opposition, namely homebuilders, vehemently lobbied against the legislation claiming that the cost is too much and that homes are safe enough.
I question their logic. I question how a home can be deemed safe enough, when it does not meet the minimum life safety codes as designated by the International Code Council. I question how the national average cost of $1.35 per square foot for a fire sprinkler system outweighs the cost of human life lost every year because of fire. This great city has no shortage of heroes; brave men and women who willingly risk their lives every day to protect us, but I argue that we need to do everything in our power to keep these heroes as safe as we possibly can, not simply safe enough. Please consider writing the Co-Chairs on the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Security, Senator James Timility and Representative Hank Naughton and express your support of these important life safety bills as a means of protecting Massachusetts citizens and first responders.
David A. LaFond
New England Regional Manager
National Fire Sprinkler Association