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NFSA's "Common Voices" advocates' coalition receives Safety Leadership Award

Published on 10 April 2009

Members of the Common Voices Coalition accepting the Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award
Members of the Common Voices Coalition accepting the award
Award given in recognition of oustanding contributions to firefighter health and safety

The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), the longest-tenured fire sprinkler advocacy organization in the U.S., announces its Common Voices advocates' coalition received the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award.

Named after retired Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland, the award - presented by the Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI) and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation - recognizes organizations for their outstanding contributions to firefighter health and safety. Sarbanes was a strong advocate of the nation's firefighters and rescue personnel during his 36-year career in Congress.

Common Voices is a non-profit group whose members are committed to preventing death and injury from fire. Six women who have been sharing their stories of personal loss are the primary spokespeople for the organization and focus on the life-saving role fire sprinklers play in preventing death. Among the group's accomplishments are:

  • Visiting Capitol Hill numerous times to meet with members of Congress to advocate for the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act
  • Testifying during the International Code Council (ICC) hearings in September 2008, when home fire sprinkler systems were added to the International Residential Code
  • Traveling across the country speaking to local fire service personnel and code decision-makers
  • Testifying at code hearings to move forward fire sprinkler initiatives

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there is a residential fire every 76 seconds, resulting in more than 3,500 deaths each year. In addition to residential fire deaths, Common Voices addresses other fire risks including fires in public places of assembly, fire safety in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and campus fire deaths. Members of Common Voices believe the installation of fire sprinklers can help decrease the U.S.'s fire death statistics.

"The Sarbanes Award is a strong validation of the important, life-saving activities the members of the Common Voices coalition have been providing for America," said John Viniello, president of NFSA. "The Common Voices volunteers are tireless in their pursuit of stronger protection for fire service members, students, and the public at large. The NFSA is extremely proud of their hard work."

Common Voices, which was founded through support from NFSA, has worked with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, The Phoenix Society, Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Home Safety Council, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Fire Protection Association, Fire Team USA, IRC Fire Sprinkler Coalition, CFSI, USA Sprinkler Fitters, International Association of Firefighters, U.S. Fire Administration, National Volunteer Fire Council, ICC and the Center for Campus Fire Safety.

"We extend our most sincere appreciation to our founders and to the organizations that collaborate with us to promote the life-saving technology of fire sprinklers," said Vickie Pritchett, Common Voices Facilitator. "Our efforts are enhanced by partnering together to save lives of both citizens and firefighters."

The award was presented at the 21st Annual National Fire and Emergency Service Dinner on April 2, 2009, in Washington, D.C.

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