The July 16 fire in downtown Gardiner shines a light on the effectiveness of a properly installed and maintained fire sprinkler system as a life- and property-saving device.

While nothing can replace the presence of highly trained and heroic firefighters, in structures that feature these systems, the risk to those brave men and women are often mitigated allowing them more time to enter the structure safely.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, structure fires were responsible for 3,240 civilian deaths in the United States in 2013, with an additional 14,075 civilian injuries and a total of $9.5 billion worth of property losses.

A fire sprinkler system works to control and typically extinguish a fire before firefighters even arrive on the scene and provides those who are inside the structure the time they need to get out safely.

I urge people to educate themselves on the current life safety codes and fire sprinkler requirements in their own cities and towns and learn how to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community from the ravages of fire.

David A. LaFond

New England regional manager

National Fire Sprinkler Association

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