OCFR and Habitat for Humanity

Orange County Fire Rescue Partners with Habitat for Humanity to Install Fire Protection Systems in Local Habitat Homes

Public Health & Safety

Orange County Fire Rescue (OCFR) is in continuous search of innovative ways to improve the chance of a family’s survival in the event of a fire in the home. OCFR is proud to have recently initiated partnerships with key local agencies and businesses in an effort to deliver the latest in home fire safety to a family who will move into a rehabilitated Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando home. It was the first time the fire rescue organization teamed up with Habitat for such an endeavor.

The motivation behind the partnership is to better ensure protection of the building and its contents while providing additional peace of mind as well as enhanced safety features for the families who will soon call their Habitat residence their home. The first selected home, located in Pine Hills, was equipped with a residential fire sprinkler system donated and installed by Grunau Company, a fire protection and mechanical systems contractor with offices in Orlando. The system provides next-level home fire safety defense for the family. While each installation is a tremendous undertaking, the goal of this initiative is to equip every Habitat Greater Orlando home with one of these life-saving sprinkler systems.

“The particular fire sprinkler system for this home was designed specifically to give residents more time to escape a fire by better controlling it,” said Orange County Fire Marshal Bruce Faust. “The system acts as a second line of defense after the smoke alarm to provide added security and safety.”

Although smoke alarms remain critical to fire safety and cut the risk of dying in a home fire significantly, home fire sprinklers in coordination with smoke alarms have been proven to protect lives and property against fire even more. In fact, research has shown sprinklers cut the risk for loss of life within a residential fire by 80 percent.

“We started this discussion with Orange County Fire Rescue several months ago because of a mutual understanding for the need for safe homes and thought it would be a perfect partnership,” said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando President and CEO Catherine Steck McManus. “We’re excited to be able to partner with them to provide additional fire safety for families.”

Smoke alarms changed the industry in the 1970s and 1980s, drastically reducing the number of residential fire fatalities. Modern building materials and furnishings, however, have reduced the time residents have to safely escape a home fire. Orange County Fire Rescue is working to raise awareness about the impact that fire sprinkler systems can have in protecting property and saving lives.

According to Orange County Fire Rescue Chief Otto Drozd III, smoke alarms are not enough. He explained this particular partnership between Orange County and Habitat for Humanity started by looking at the benefits both fire sprinklers and Habitat bring to the community. It was simply a matter of combining two good things to create improved safety outcomes.

“We plan to continue this partnership and put home fire sprinklers in all Habitat for Humanity homes in Orange County,” said Orange County Fire Chief Otto Drozd. “If we can do this, we will have a positive impact and reduce fire deaths in the community. It’s really a simple narrative: Sprinklers mean survival.”

For more information about Orange County Fire Rescue, as well as emergency and safety information, visit www.ocfl.net/EmergencySafety, or contact Kat Kennedy, Public Information Officer, by calling 407-836-9074.

Photo caption: Leaders from Orange County Fire Rescue, Habitat Greater Orlando, Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition and Florida Fire Sprinkler Association gather to celebrate the partnership’s first fire sprinkler installation on March 8, 2017.

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