What’s Dumb?

What’s Dumb?



The fire service and all its ancillary, contributory, and relational services have picked up the ball on the sprinklerization issue of human-occupied spaces in America.

As frustrating as the fight is, it goes on. Federal, state and local governments are getting the message and, more importantly, are getting involved.

Fire service and commercial organizations have been making their ideas and goals felt in the building trades. Recently, the National Volunteer Fire Council stated that its members would no longer use unsprinklered facilities for any of their functions. This action was paralleled by paid fire organizations as well as by some from the business community.

If we were to question to whose benefit these activities and directives are aimed, all would have one answer: the public. We’re concerned for the life safety of those that we’re in business to protect. And right we are!

But if we were to consider who, underneath it all, receives the direct benefit from this safety awareness, we’d see that it’s the sprinkler industry itself. The manufacturers, merchants, and installers are capitalizing on our unselfish efforts to make America’s citizens fire-safe. They basically have millions of salespersons (us), a great product lobby, and legislated, mandated purchases in code writing and enforcement that don’t cost them a cent.

I agree. However, the theme of this editorial is “what’s dumb,” and I guess I’d better get to the point.

The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 26 reported an astonishing story. It seems that the National Fire Sprinkler Association spent five days in Hawaii for their annual trade meeting. Five hundred members, their guests, and associates booked and housed themselves in an unsprinklered hotel.

“That’s tantamount to the pope staying in a brothel,” one NFSA member was quoted as saying. Association president John A. Viniello said in a statement that the hotel had no sprinklers when the conference contract was signed in October 1986 but the system was promised to be in place by the week of the meeting! Viniello was further reported to have said that staying in an unsprinklered hotel should be used as a chance to inform building management of the benefits of sprinkler systems!

Those hearing of this story have coupled it with other inane comparisons. I, for one, think it’s just plain dumb. I also feel a little “used.” How about you?

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