EPA scientists will celebrate Sustainability Month, part of the Year of Science 2009, by connecting with the public through blogs, podcasts and demonstrations of the importance of sustainability in our communities. The Year of Science 2009 was created by the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) to engage the public in science by showing why science matters in their communities and everyday lives, according to an agency press release.

Sustainability is defined internationally as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For the U.S. EPA, this includes conserving natural resources by using alternative renewable energy sources, recycling used materials into new products, and finding an alternative to toxics used in manufacturing or products that could pollute the environment.

“Sustainability Month is a great opportunity for EPA scientists to share their knowledge and commitment on how to better conserve and reuse valuable natural resources with the public, and to hear from citizens their ideas for a sustainable future,” said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “We’re going to keep the momentum from Earth Day going with lots of activities, particularly ones that will engage children and encourage them to study science.”

May activities: More information on the EPA Year of Science: http://www.epa.gov/yearofscience More information on COPUS and The Year of Science 2009: http://www.yearofscience2009.org National fire service speaks out against anti-sprinkler bills Stand together to better protect firefighters and public Fire service groups voice support for residential sprinklers (5/7) Citing the fact that more than 90 percent of fireground firefighter deaths occur in one- and two-family homes, leading fire service organizations warned against state-by-state legislative efforts, orchestrated by homebuilders, which are designed to prohibit communities from requiring residential fire sprinklers in new home construction. Fire service groups are reiterating their strong support for sprinklers in the wake of several legislative attempts across the country, according to a recent National Fire Protection Association.

“Anti-sprinkler proponents are attempting to deny local jurisdictions the right to decide on critical safety code provisions and if successful, they will put firefighters and the public at risk,” said International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) President Chief Larry J. Grorud, CFO, MIFireE. “These anti-sprinkler bills will set a dangerous precedent.” Chief Grorud said there are now bills in approximately 15 states that ignore the well established, life-safety benefit of sprinklers and if passed, will take away a real opportunity to enhance public and firefighter safety.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately 80 percent of all fires occur in homes, but when home fire sprinklers are present the chances of dying in a home fire decrease by about 80 percent. NFPA has no record of a multiple fatality fire in a sprinklered building where the system operated. All model safety codes now call for the installation of residential sprinklers in new home construction.

“Now is not the time to backslide on fire and life safety. It is important to move this technology forward with the adoption of sprinkler provisions from the model codes into state and local codes in order to bring this added level of safety to all citizens,” said Georgia State Fire Marshal Alan R. Shuman, president of the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM).

“We see the devastating consequences of home fires every day, and we know sprinklers save lives,” International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) General President Harold A. Schaitberger said. “These misguided legislative efforts will make it harder to keep people safe, protect their property, and will jeopardize the lives of firefighters.” “Home fire sprinklers provide an added level of safety because they control heat, smoke and flames allowing occupants time to escape and giving firefighters a safer environment,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “The NVFC's state association members have been fighting and will continue to push back against attempts to restrict fire sprinkler installation in new residential construction.”

Roughly 90 percent of the time, fires are contained by the operation of just one sprinkler. When sprinklers are not present, the fire can burn for minutes, raging out of control, filling the home with toxic smoke and resulting in far greater losses. A recent NFPA report states that sprinklers reduce the average property loss by 71 percent per fire. Anyone interested in public safety and learning more about home fire sprinklers can visit www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.