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Patton Report No.

61
March 1985

Regulatory Fraud

THE GRANDEST FRAUD IN THE


HISTORY OF MAN: Our fire code system is not
a cure to fire, it is a guarantor of fire and a pre-
server of the fire marketplace. In truth, this
code system may well be the most elaborate,
complex, and profitable fraud ever conceived
of by the mind of man. The net "take" from
the code fraud system over these many years
may be more than one thousand billion dollars
(one trillion dollars) and the cost may well be
as high as 500,000 deaths and many million
major injuries and maimings.

Regulatory Fraud Defined


Fraud is defined by Webster as "deceit, trickery, an act of PRICE FIXING AND COLLUSION
deceiving or misrepresenting. An impostor or a cheat". Under the Federal Sherman Anti Trust Act it is illegal for
businesses of like kind to have their executives meet to set
To most people the word "fraud" also implies an illegal act, prices or to collude together to bar others (newcomers) from
where the perpetrator is subject to prosecution by law. For the market place, or erect improper barriers to free commerce.
example, when a man deceives his wife by telling her he's Many businesses have been fined, and some business executives
going bowling, when he has other things on his mind, we call have been put in jail for such activities. A free and open
that cheating, but not necessarily fraud. When a man mis- marketplace is the cornerstone to honesty in the business
represents what he's selling, and deliberately deceives the world.
customer in order to cheat him out of money, then we have a But, under the protective umbrella of a code making
situation usually considered to be fraudulent and punishable operation, collusion is often standard operating procedure.
by law. So, fraud is not only trickery, and cheating, it is also The fire codes have been a cover for at least indirect price
a criminal activity, as we define in this paper. fixing. The code, for example, defines a "fire pump" in such a
restrictive manner, that all such pumps become essentially
How about "regulatory fraud"? What is different about it. equals, and those that manufacture to the mandated criteria
Well, here I am coining the expression to cover situations have no incentive to compete through technology. Through
which would be, under normal circumstances, considered to be the code key people meet to "standardize", and out of these
fraudulent, criminal by nature; but which in the final analysis meetings come regulated products such as fire pumps that
are not usually prosecutable under law because the acts are command prices two, three or four times the cost of "non
sheltered under the protective umbrella of a code system. In approved" pumps that could supply adequate water at
the following paragraphs we'll explain how this is done. adequate pressure with equal or better reliability. But such
things as collusion, price fixing, and cheating are extremely predicted such cables would burn, quite well. And in recent
difficult to prove when those who meet, presumably do so as years actual fire tests at Sandia testing laboratories have
public spirited volunteers "helping the fire safety effort". proven me right, but the test results are still not publicized.
For example, it would be most difficult to prove that those These are the cables the industry depends on for "safe shut-
who manufacture or sell fire pumps, or those who regulate the down" in an emergency.
fire sprinkler technology, have engaged in any illegal activities.
However, we can show that a fire pump and required gear will
normally cost $10,000 to $15,000, but that an excellent "non FIRE INVESTIGATIONS RIGGED TO SELL
labeled" pump, drive, starter and necessary equipment can be CODES AND CONCEAL THE TRUE CAUSES OF
purchased for the $2,000 to $5,000 range. Has there been THE FIRE
"price fixing" of the equipment or collusion in setting criteria When a major fire occurs, which includes a large loss of life,
so as to prevent inexpensive pumps from entering the market- invariably the National Fire Protection Association investigates
place? OF COURSE NOT! There has been a "protecting of the the fire. Of course, the NFPA does not find its own codes
public" with a cooperative code making effort. faulty, even if the building was constructed as per the code.
Invariably, they find some "code deviations" (which is not
difficult as there are 200 codes and many change each year).
SELLING OF DANGEROUS EQUIPMENT Then they use the fire to promote further acceptance of and
For years extinguisher salesmen sold "Carbon Tetra- use of the codes they are selling.
chloride" fire extinguishers to the public, and for good prices, Almost invariably, these investigations are self-serving and
even though they seldom put any fires out, but frequently put actually conceal very critical factors in the loss. For example,
the user out with deadly fumes. Only after there was a public when the Nursing Home fire occurred in Marietta, Ohio, Jan.
outcry were they removed from the marketplace. 9, 1970 and 31 people died, they died in a facility that was
Thin wall fire extinguishers, which are capable of producing "nearly in perfect" compliance with NFPA-101 - the Life
high internal pressure and exploding, and taking the user's Safety Code (which I call the Death Code). Since the building
hand and face away in the process, have been sold for many fit the code almost perfectly, and since the code could not
years without benefit of any warnings to the public at all. And possibly be the killer (of course), it was essential to the NFPA
they also seldom put the fire out. that they find a "deviation" from the code. The facility was
When automobile manufacturers conceal flaws that could carpeted and the NFPA code did not deal with carpeting,
cause injury or death to the public, they have been dealt with because carpeting had never been found to be an important
harshly. When a fire equipment manufacturer sells a product factor in fire. The carpet was sent up to Underwriters
with an inherent danger, and with perhaps a 50 percent failure Laboratory for testing. It passed the "pill" test, which was the
track record, he's got the codes and the approving laboratories "standard" test for carpeting at the time. This proved that the
in his corner shielding him. carpet - in a normal position on the floor would not burn of
itself. The carpet would burn only when everything else
combustible in the room was already burning and the ceiling
DECEPTIVE LABELING was radiating intense heat down onto the carpeting. (The floor
Many manufacturers sell products to the building industry is the last to burn). In other words, by the time that carpeting
with code words such as "non combustible","fire retardant", was burning, flashover had occurred and any person in that
"fire treated" or "fire proofed". To the public, the idea area was already dead.
conveyed is simple. The materials do not burn. But, in the But this was not an acceptable conclusion because it would
mysterious world of the codes and the labels, meanings are then leave NFPA-101 as a defective code. So, the carpet
often deceptive. A testing laboratory will structure a specific was placed upside down in the tunnel test (which is the test
test for testing specific materials. A label of "non combusti- for testing ceiling tile). When the test fire was cranked up
ble" or "fire retardant" means only that the product passed below the rug on the ceiling of the test tunnel the mastic
that specific test, which could be a severe test, or a not very melted and the carpet fell down. But they persevered, got the
severe test, or even an irrelevant test. The manufacturer gets carpet to stay on the ceiling, and eventually "proved" that it
his "label", which convinces the public the product is safe, and burned. Thus, the true causes of the fire, FLASHOVER in
therefore it sells, and the laboratory gets its fees for using the the normal combustible contents typical to the industry, and a
label. faulty NFPA code, were hidden.
The public often gets a product it assumes to be safe, but Then, in order to capitalize on this disaster, new regulations
which may actually burn vociferously in the field. Also, since and new testing requirements were cranked up. So, the fire
most fire retardants tend to produce unusually toxic gases, the establishment concealed the holes in their own code and
"labled" product may actually be far more dangerous than the parlayed the human suffering into a new bonanza.
normal combustibles we've lived with for years. But, Through such methods the NFPA has protected the reputa-
dangerous or not, the lab gets the fee, and the manufacturer tion of its codes. I have always considered the deception
gets the controlled market and the bigger profits. How many in relation to the Marietta Nursing Home fire to be an under-
deaths have occurred due to the public thinking they had a
safe product, when in reality the product was quite dangerous,
is i mpossible to estimate.
lying factor in many fires that occurred at a later time, as
an honest report would have initiated corrective action prio
to the more recent tragedies. The MGM Hotel fire is a
tip
Incidentally, for many years "fire retardant" electrical example: Probably, the MGM Hotel fire would never have
cables were sold to the nuclear power industry with the idea occurred except for the trickery following the Marietta fire.
that protecting the cables with fire extinguishing systems was But of course the investigation into this MGM Hotel fire was
not necessary because the cables wouldn't burn. Years ago, I also a masterpiece of deception and concealment.
FIRE SPRINKLER CODE CONTROLS doors, demanding to see the extinguishers, and see if they
have been retested in the last y ear. There's 100,000 firemen
In many newsletters I have detailed the enormous and out there, going door to door, "selling" fire extinguishers
eticulous pains taken by the NFPA to obstruct and prevent for the fire industry because the NFPA code says they're
•the evolution of low cost and effective fire sprinkler systems,
or life safety systems as I coined the term, so that there is no needed. Put a UL labeled fire extinguisher beside a non labeled
need to elaborate further here. garden hose and spray nozzle, and it's like comparing a beat up
1948 Chevy with a 1985 Porsche. But, behind the deception
of the codes, not only does the beat up Chevy sell at twice the
cost of the Porsche, but there's a hundred thousand salesmen,
paid for by you and me, out there selling them.
RIGGED TESTING TO PRODUCE THE "RIGHT"
ANSWERS And, let a businessman throw out the ineffective fire
extinguisher, or have the 11/2 inch hose lines removed from his
The American public has preconceived notions about who building for being unwieldy or dangerous to life and limb; and
is honest, and who is dishonest, which are possibly as harmful then put in that which he knows how to handle (and that
as the prejudices regarding race. In the "dishonest" class some which puts the fire out) and guess what will happen to him.
people include used car salesmen, real estate salesmen, lawyers, He'll change his ways, or end up in jail, or heavily fined, or put
and politicians. Tell someone that a certain politician is out of business. So under the codes businessmen are forced to
dishonest and he'll say "what else is new". p
urchase terribly overpriced eauipment, which most often is
In the "honest" category are scientists, engineers, and not only ineffective, but dangerous to use. Then, when his
researchers. If the man is making a "scientific study" it is property burns, because the UL ap p roved extin g uisher didn't
generally perceived that the study will be meticulously ac- put the fire out, the NFPA will be out to investigate him, and
curate. Because of this many researchers and engineers, in find some reason to denounce him, because he failed to
the fire safety field at least, have a great disdain for the truth "com p ly with the codes". There are over 200 fire codes, and
as everything published tends to be believed. hundreds of thousands of regulations, and every year
I have seen "fire research" and "fire testing" that has been thousands more are thought up. It's not difficult to find "code
so deliberately phonied, so structured in order to produce violations" after the fire and convince the public the
the "right" answers, that I almost expect the sky to fall down "violations" were the key factors in the loss. The loss then, if
and smash the perpetrators for their deception. Yet, they s p ectacular enou g h, can be used by the fire business to pro-
trot out their frauds - and frauds are what they are - in front of mote further markets for further regulated products which
- the assembled code makers, and everyone oohs and aahs, and also will be overpriced.
applauds, and passes into the codes that which was planned to
• be entered to begin with.
Deception is not only tolerated in the fire community, it is
almost a revered custom. A case in point is the fraudulent REGULATORY FRAUD DEFINED
test by which the "standard" sprinkler heads, which sell for $2 So, what then is "regulatory fraud"? Here is the Patton
were found "not satisfactory" for dwellings, making way for definition:
the $10 fast heads and some other shenanigans. These tests are
covered in a separate article in this Patton Report. This fraud, "Regulatory fraud is cheating the public and/or en-
in particular, will produce a loss into the thousands of lives. dangering lives through methods of concealment, collusion,
Indeed, I predict that thousands of youngsters, below age 10, false advertising, misrepresentation, price fixing, or deceit;
will die as a result of the deception. but doing it in such a manner under the protective umbrella
of a code system so as to avoid criminal prosecution or legal
liability for the consequences."
ELIMINATING THE GOOD SO THE BAD CAN How extensive, how serious, is regulatory fraud in the fire
SURVIVE safety field? I summarize it this way. The solution to fire
A fire protection pioneer, who incidently is largely ignored is cheap and easy. It takes 30 GPM or less of water to control
by the fire protection community, did some amazing things more than 99 percent of the fires when initiated, and the
many years ago. His name was Lloyd Layman and he was from basic solutions, the fire sprinkler system and small fog nozzle
West Virginia. He pioneered fire fighting with small hose lines have been available since the 1860s. Today there is a $100
and fog (fine water spray) when most others liked to knock billion dollar a year market for the "fire safety" industry. This
the walls down with the big pumpers and the heavy streams. industry has grown primarily by approving and overpricing
It's said of Lloyd Layman he could put out a fire in a home products that have little impact on the loss experience, and by
with a thimble full of water. Lloyd used hose remarkably denying approvals to and obstructing systems that are in-
similar to the good quality, high pressure garden hose that can expensive and very efficient at fire control. Probably three out
be bought in a hardware store for $15 a length. And maybe of every four fire deaths that have occurred due to building
that was his undoing. The fire community is not yet ready for fires are a legacy of fraudulent practices in the fire code field.
a $15 hose when the big, (but nearly impossible to use) PA
le inch hose is still selling at 10 times that price via those codes
that mandate its use in buildings, for use by untrained people.
Check into any fire department, any place in this country,
on any day of the week, and what will the fire prevention
men be up to? Riding around the community, knocking on
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The Foundation Of The Fire Code Fraud
The fire codes, as they have evolved in America, accomplish So, the first stage in the use of fire codes to maintain fire,
two things: First, they set a framework upon which has and to continue the profits, is to set the compartmentation
grown a truly enormous protected market, with prices artifi- "non solution" as the foundation of fire science; that is to
cially maintained far above a fair worth for value received. create a universally accepted area of expertise where the "non
Secondly, in the process of protecting the marketplace solution" to fire becomes the accepted "solution"; and where
created, the codes have gravitated toward allowing that which blind adherence to codes rather than engineering logic be-
poses no threat to the system, and prohibiting that which does comes the norm.
threaten the system, to the degree that the continuity of fire
loss is assured. WATER IS A DANGER TO THE FIRE
ESTABLISHMENT
The compartmentation concept, however, would not
FIRE CODES GUARANTEE FIRE suffice of itself. In the event a major reduction in fire ex-
Bluntly stated, the fire codes in America are no longer perience within the compartment occurred, this would then
oriented toward reducing fire (if indeed they ever were). Quite result in a major reduction in the market place. The dollar cash
the opposite, they protect the profits derived from the system flow would also drop as frequency or severity fell. So, along
by assuring that fire continues unabated in America; and that with subdivision of risk (concentration on the non solution)
year by year the "take" from fire grows. the system also needed guarantees that reduction in fire loss,
There is no place where this trend is more evident than in not occur within the compartment.
the "investigatory" process following each major fire. In- Therefore, the second key element in the fire code scheme
variably, there is a mad rush by the profiteers to get in on the for profits was to prevent available water from being effec-
creation of new fire code requirements to mandate their own tively used on the early fire. The reason this was necessary is
wares. And, within this maelstrom of fire investigations and that water is so plentiful (available in every building) and so
code writing, it becomes abundantly clear that the impetus is extremely effective in controlling the early fire, that fire
toward allowing in all regulations that will add to the profits, would all but disappear as a national problem if water were
but none of the systems that could actually reduce the losses. allowed to be used both early and effectively. The first five
minutes in a fire is what counts. The time factor eliminates the
fire department, and the water restrictions cripple the earli
HOW IT IS DONE fire control effort.
But it is not easy to keep increasing the take from fire while Summarizing, the two basic factors built into the codes in
never reducing the enormity of fire. How is it done? There are order to guarantee the continuity of the business of fire were:
many ways in which it is done, and I have covered these ways 1. The compartmentation plan which allowed fire to
extensively in prior Patton Reports. But there are two basics continue unabated within the unit.
upon which the entire system is dependent. One is subdivision 2. Code prohibitions on the use of water to prevent its
of risk as the alternate to fire suppression. The other is to effective use on the early fire.
prevent water from being effectively applied to the incipient
fire. FIRE SPRINKLER CODE CONTROLS
Subdivision of risk may also be termed compartmentation; In many newsletters I have detailed the enormous and me-
or in its most refined form, the "fireproof" building. All are ticulous pains taken by the NFPA to obstruct and prevent the
the same concept. Assume there is a city of wood frame evolution of low cost and effective fire sprinkler systems, or
houses, side by side, block by block. If one burns, they could life safety systems as I coined the term, so that there is no
all burn; and this level of fire which is called a conflegration is need to elaborate further here.
unacceptable for a variety of reasons, including that con-
flegrations put insurance companies out of business. CONTROLLING METHODS OF WATER USAGE
Now, take the same city, but between each row house put a With the means to prevent automatic early fire control with
fire wall, from ground up, parapeted above the wood roof. water thwarted, that left manual fire control with water
Now the conflegration problem has been solved, the entire city another distinct danger to the system. The system, the NFPA,
does not burn, only a single house burns at a time. Note, and the fire testing laboratories rose to the occasion again,
however, this "solution" in no way reduces fire frequency however, and successfully thwarted the effective use of water
within any one unit. Similarly, multi-story buildings are manually on an early fire. How? By "standardizing" the code
"compartmented" floor by floor with concrete slabs and approved ways of using water into impractical methods.
enclosed shafts. (But toxic fire gases do not "compartment"). One of the two code and laboratory methods (of using
Within the framework of the compartmentation "solution" water) allowed is the water base fire extinguisher, which emits
the fire insurance system is protected because fire continues at a pencil lead thick stream of water for 50 seconds, and which
a random but predictable rate, but the "break the bank" loss is about as effective as a biologically administered stream. The
does not occur. water base fire extinguisher would be a farce if it were not als
Within the framework of the fireproof (compartmented) an enormous human tragedy.
building an enormous market for fire related products has The other allowed method of water use is the 11/2 inch
evolved, and since fire continuity on a unit by unit, or floor by racked hose, which requires two trained firemen to handle,
floor basis, is assured, the market growth for the products is and which is not only useless but very dangerous in the hands
assured. of the amateur who is most likely to discover the fire.
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Let's run through this once again. By and large it was 2. The orientation of the fire codes so that available water
usually near impossible to market "non approved" fire pro- is seldom applied effectively to the early fire, either
tection equipment. The manual application of water to the automatically or manually.
early fire was thwarted by making the "standard" and
"approved" equipment for such use too small to be effective By such methods the very codes that presumably prevent or
(extinguisher) or too big to be able to be used by a non trained reduce fire in reality guarantee fire continuity.
fire fighter (the 11/2 inch hose). The measure of the power of
the system is that a truly effective water application tool
(garden size hose and spray nozzle) is almost never used
against fire because fire prevention training and built-in THE GRANDEST FRAUD IN THE HISTORY
equipment follows closely the "code approved" concepts. The OF MAN
codes have amazingly resulted in water rarely being applied
effectively to the early fire (before fire department arrival). Our fire code system is not a cure to fire, it is a guarantor
The exception has been those large industrial type properties of fire and a preserver of the fire marketplace. In truth this
where fire sprinkler systems became practical under the code. code system may well be the most elaborate, complex, and
With their enormous powers of advertising, promotion, and profitable fraud ever conceived of by the mind of man. The
influence, the NFPA and its friends have thus removed water net "take" from the code fraud system over these many years
as an effective tool in controlling the early fire. may be more than one thousand billion dollars (one trillion
dollars) and the cost may well be as high as 500,000 deaths
SUMMARY and many million major injuries and maimings.
There are many other facets to the code system conspiracy
to keep the fires burning, but the two that are most basic are Fire continues as a national problem today only because
these: near 100 percent reliable solutions to fire, available 70 years
1. The promotion of compartmentation (a "non solu- and more ago, have been systematically barred from the
tion"), as the accepted solution to fire, and the struc- market place by a code-profit system that will not tolerate a
turing of a "fire science" so oriented. true solution to fire.

A Most Deadly Fraud


"Statistics on 1978 fires published by the U.S. Fire Ad- "A National Protection Association (NFPA) Standard on
ministration show that residential fires account for 77 percent residential sprinkler systems (NFPA 13-D - 1975) has been
of the civilian fire fatalities, 46 percent of the dollar loss, and available since 1975. However, NFPA-13-D, resulting from a
over 50 percent of the fire-fighter injuries. It is evident that relaxation of the industry - oriented sprinkler standard,
residential fires are our nation's number one fire problem". produces a system too costly to be widely installed".
The above statement is taken from the Factory Mutual "Thus, sprinklers, the most effective means yet devised for
Research Technical Report, FMRC Serial No. 22574, fire suppression, are still limited almost exclusively to the
"Sprinkler Performance in Residential Fire Tests", dated July protection of industrial and commercial properties".
1980.
Factory Mutual is reported to be the world's largest fire DEVASTATING CONCLUSIONS
insuring system, with research and testing facilities equivalent
to Underwriters Laboratory. Factory Mutual had some other At this point, let's pause for a moment and reflect upon the
things to say about residential fire sprinkler systems, in the enormity of the situation that existed in 1975 with respect
above referenced, U.S. Federal Government sponsored, re- to the loss of human life from fire, and the residential fire
search report. Let's see what they said. sprinkler system.
Factory Mutual research engineers concluded (and correctly
so) that:
1. The residence accounts for 77 percent of the fire deaths,
THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION and 44 percent of the dollar loss from fires, in the U.S.
RESIDENTIAL SPRINKLER SYSTEM STANDARD IS 2. The residential fire is America's No. 1 fire problem.
"TOO COSTLY TO BE WIDELY INSTALLED". 3. The fire sprinkler system is "the most effective means
yet devised for fire suppression".

In 1980, at the time of the writing of the referenced report 4. The NFPA design code for residential sprinklers pro-
(FM RC Serial No. 22574), following the government funded duced a sprinkler system "too costly to be widely
research into residential sprinklers, the 1975 NFPA-13D installed".
residential sprinkler standard, was in force. What did the Well, didn't the F.M. engineers describe one hell of a
U.S. funded F.M. research program conclude about NFPA- situation? We have a number one fire problem in America. It
13D. Here we quote directly from the F.M. engineering - accounts for 77 percent of all fire deaths in the U.S. (mostly
research report No. 22574. the elderly and the children, incidently). And this nation's
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leading fire safety organization, the NFPA, has countered the CODE MAKING BEFORE THE DATA IS
problem with a standard that defines a system "too costly" AVAILABLE
to be useful.
I was completely astounded in 1980, when the NFPA at its
The 1980 NFPA - Code national convention in San Diego referenced fire research
Between 1975 and 1980 the U.S. Federal Government data that "proved" that the standard, low cost sprinklers
financed much research into residential sprinklers. Spending would not function properly in a residence. At the time we
went into the millions. But, when it came to producing a had over 80 years' experience with "standard" sprinkler heads
standard to define the "new" residential sprinkler system, they in nursing homes, hotels, clubs, rooming houses, hospitals
went back to the same fire code establishment source for the and similar light hazard properties. The 80 years of actual data
code writing. In 1980 the NFPA produced its "corrected" showed loss of life in sprinklered buildings very close to zero.
standard for residential sprinklers, No. 13-D (1980). This was a For 80 years the "old" heads worked, nearly perfectly. How
revision to the 1975 issue which F.M. concluded was "too come, then, federally funded research suddenly "proved" the
costly to be widely installed". What changes did NFPA make? opposite?
They are listed below: In San Diego, I found that the new code (13-D, 1980) was
1. The permitted sprinkler spacing was reduced from 256 to be voted into existing without first being a "temporary
sq. ft. to 150 sq. ft. (more sprinklers needed to do the standard" for a year, as was the normal procedure, and I found
job). out the research that proved the "old sprinklers would not
2. The inexpensive standard sprinkler was barred from use. work" was not yet published and available to those who would
A new fast sprinkler was mandated for residences at vote. And I found that the "new", fast sprinklers were not yet
much higher cost. approved or being manufactured. But, we were told, the
3. The requirement that the system be fed by a water matter of the new code was "so vital" that the extremely
supply greater than that available in most homes was unusual procedures to standardize before the data was pub-
retained. (13-D, 1980 requires 38 gpm. The rating of lished, was justified because human safety in dwellings was
most 5/8 or 3/4 inch residential meters and supply lines such a critically important issue (after 84 years without a
is 25 gpm). practical code).
In short, the "too costly to be widely installed" 1975 code I made it my business to find and analyze the research data
was replaced by a substantially more costly 1980 code. Now that "proved" the "old" heads would not work in a residence.
isn't that a situation when one considers the fact that 77 The research procedures were astounding.
percent of all fire deaths occur in the home.
NOWONDER "THAT OLD SPRINKLER" FAILED 11110
WHAT FACTORY MUTUAL DID NOT SAY I could not believe that a proper research program could
Although the findings of the Factory Mutual engineers, as "prove" conventional sprinklers would not save lives in a
per the quotes from FMRC Serial No. 22574, could be taken dwelling because for 80 years sprinklers had been almost 100
as a devastating indictment of the NFPA, F.M. did not directly percent perfect at protecting life. But after I studied the
make any such judgments or accusations. Indeed, they might research report, I knew how the researchers had reached the
have, but did not, make the following observations: conclusions they reached.
1. That the NFPA had been in existence for 79 years prior The fire research test room conditions varied, but under
to 1975, and was well aware of the carnage due to fire in some of the worst conditions (where most failures occurred)
the American home, and yet had not produced a sprink- the walls and the ceilings were sheathed with combustible
ler code pertinent to residences prior to 1975. materials. And under the most adverse conditions the fire was
2. That in the early 1970s Richard Patton had already located in the corner, and furniture was placed between the
pioneered and proven out a life safety sprinkler system sprinkler and the fire so the spray could not reach the fire.
and code that was unanimously endorsed by a research Realize, the fire was arranged to burn shielded from the
committee of representatives of virtually all of the sprinkler spray.
important code and fire safety organizations of the time:
including the three model building code organizations, Having set up test conditions where the room as well as the
contents were combustible, with the water spray prevented
(Uniform, Basic and Standard Building Codes organiza- from reaching the fire, a condition for "failure" was further
tions) and also the [AFC, the National Bureau of Stan- defined as follows:
dards, and even by the NFPA assigned committee man.
3. That after first cooperating with the Life Safety System 1. Theoretically, a person would remain in the fire room
research and code making, NFPA reversed itself, pro- for a full 15 minutes AFTER the sprinkler opened. In
duced its own residential standard, and worked to defeat other words, the sprinkler would operate, and then for
the wide acceptance of the Life Safety System arguing 15 minutes (as the obstructed fire continued to burn)
that their own new standard (13-D, 1975) would do the theoretically a person would remain within the room
job better. amidst the sprayed water and combustion products.
4. That at hearings Patton correctly argued that
NFPA-13-D was too costly to sell. It was only five years 2. Under the above conditions, if during the 15 minutes •
later (1980) when F.M. finally officially stated, that AFTER the sprinkler opened, the carbon monoxide
13-D was "too costly to be widely installed". By then, reached a level that would kill with approximately a
residential sprinklers had already been dealt a crippling ONE HOUR exposure time, the sprinkler head was
blow. judged to have "failed".
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For those who do not realize it, a sprinkler is NOT They say the truth will set you free. I'm not so sure.


guaranteed to completely extinguish a fire. There can be The State Fire Marshal of California, and his staff produced
no such guarantee because a fire could be under a bed, a residential sprinkler code that truly makes sense. This
for example, or behind furniture, etc. The sprinkler standard; which ties into much of the Patton research:
system CONTROLS the fire, prevents flashover, keeps 1. Uses small orifice sprinkler and a finer spray to allow
the fire small, allows people safe exit from the im- homes to be protected with water already available
mediate fire area, drops the heat, and keeps the toxic within the home. There is no need to dig up the front
gases to a minute level when compared to the lawn to put in a new supply line especially for the
TREMENDOUS toxicity produced by an out of control sprinkler system.
fire. Sprinklers, nearly 100 percent of the time, prevent 2. Requires the water density proven adequate by research,
fire deaths under these parameters. Those who know fire and in line with "standard" protection in most other
sprinklers and who structured the test parameters industrial nations in the world. A water density of 0.05
undoubtedly were DELIBERATELY AND IN- GPM/sq. ft. is allowed.
TENTIONALLY setting conditions for failure so as to 3. Allows the use of the low cost sprinklers and the wider
GUARANTEE FAILURE! spacing normal to sprinkler design. The standard sprink-
INCREDIBLE! The test was structured to GUARANTEE ler covering 225 sq. ft. is permitted.
failure. 4. Allows other innovations that will result in a practical,
affordable, life safety system for the home.
FAST SPRINKLERS FAILED TOO
I continued my researching of the "research that proved THE BIG PICTURE
that sprinklers don't work". It was the fire test series con-

i
ducted in the City of Los Angeles during 1979 and 1980, Yes, Factory Mutual said it. Yes, it's true! The dwelling is
largely financed by the federal government. During this the number one fire problem in America. The 1975 NFPA-
test program prototypes of the "fast" sprinklers were also 13-D standard was too costly to be installed. The number of
tested. These "fast" sprinklers were not yet into the manu- sprinkler systems installed to meet the criteria of this code
facturing stage, and presumably were waiting on "favorable between 1975 and 1980 was probably less than 100.
conclusions" from the research program so as to justify
the manufacturing. In 1980 the NFPA revised their "too costly" sprinkler
Well, as I studied the research, it became apparent that system, and made it more costly. After nearly 100 years in
whether or not the sprinkler head was "fast" was irrelevant to existence, and 25 years after Richard Patton proved out the
the tests. Under the test conditions described above the "fast" technicalities for practical sprinkler systems, and more than
sprinklers "failed" just as readily as the "standard" sprinklers. 10 years after he proved them out in front of a panel of
Interestingly enough, there were MORE failures produced with national fire protection engineers, the NFPA codes still
the "fast" sprinklers than with the standard ones. represent a near insurmountable barrier to fire safety in the
home.
Another interesting thing I discovered was that this L.A.
test program was also used as a justification for reducing the The number of deaths that could have been prevented, but
allowed sprinkler spacing to 150 sq. ft. (1980 NFPA-13-D) weren't, must be well into the hundreds of thousands by
from a previously allowed spacing of 256 sq. ft. (1975 N FPA- now. And, a high percentage are children.
13-D). Yet, there were actually MORE failures during the test
program with sprinklers spaced 150 sq. ft. or less, than when
sprinkler spacing was more than 150 sq. ft. How about that! TOO MANY PROFESSIONALS LOOK THE OTHER
Of course, this "research" set the stage for forcing the public WAY
to buy more expensive sprinklers, and more of them, to gain a
When an honest engineer looks at the research that was
"certified" system. I personally believe that the research, the used as a basis to bar low cost sprinkler heads from use in the
misrepresenting of the research at the NFPA convention, and home, it is just so obviously spurious that one can only won-
the code locking the public into unnecessarily expensive der why it is that no public agency has as yet leveled charges
sprinkler systems, represented criminal fraud. of fraud and dishonesty against the perpetrators. I mean, the
data is there in black and white - how can any man of integrity
TRUTH IS NOT ALWAYS VICTORIOUS close his eyes to the situation? How can the fire "profes-
At the 1980 NFPA convention in San Diego, I went up to a sionals" close their eyes to what's going on, and the cost in
microphone during the preceedings and although the research human life?
referenced above was "not yet available", I told those as- The home is the number one fire problem in America, and
sembled the information I had developed, as outlined above. the child is the number one victim in the home. And, I am
But, there was a very well orchestrated presentation with afraid, that so long as manipulated research, orchestrated
important people in the fire protection community assuring codes, and indifference among the professionals prevails, that
he audience that the conventional sprinklers won't work it will continue to be so.
atisfactorily in the home (it was proven, they said), that the
otests proved that fast heads were needed, that the tests proved
the fast sprinklers would work better, that the test proved
reduced spacing was needed, etc. The well orchestrated shift to
the new standard No. 13-D, 1980, swept through of course.
THE AUTHOR'S ATTITUDE TOWARD THE FAST RESPONSE SPRINKLER

The concept of the faster response sprinkler is a good one. 25 gpm water supply, three open sprinklers will spell system
In fact, in Patton Reports years ago, I advocated the develop- failure; indeed even two open heads will produce failure under
ment of faster response sprinklers as one of many changes many conditions in the home with the present regulations.
needed in the sprinkler system. When Harry Shaw was pro-
moting research into this matter for the National Fire Ad- The code fraud concept of pricing higher, and giving less,
ministration he called me in as a consultant, and I gave him my came through, in spades.
ideas. He told me that my writings on the subject were an in-
spiration for the research. In my judgment, the Federal Government in its usual way
came into the fire picture with the very best of intentions,
I have no conflict with the idea at all. What I find revolting, placed bureaucratic type minds in charge, appropriated 10 times
however, is that the price of entry into the marketplace for as much money as was needed, and assumed all would come
this device was instant corruption. The device rolled in on out well. Those who were in charge knew little to nothing
about true fire technology as opposed to code reading, even
manipulated research, falsifications, and trickery. It was used
to further increase system costs, further oversize pipe, and to less about the politics of fire; and their greatest fear was the
lock in on an atrocious excess of water requirement. Since the fear of making a decision without committee backup.
research was phony we still do not know how it will operate in
the home compared to the standard head. Those who recog- The sharks of fire safety came in with their white knights in
shining armor attire, volunteered their usual 1000 percent
nize no technology except a corrupted technology prevailed.
cooperation, stroked the right egos, and dazzled the govern-
ment worker with charm, expertise and affluence. And they
The "fast" sprinkler increases the chance for more than two led them right down the garden path.
sprinklers to open in a fire. If they were five gpm sprinklers,
and three opened, the 15 gpm needed would be available and The "fast" sprinkler could have been the key to unlock an
the fire would be controlled. When two open sprinklers are opening in the stone wall. Instead, it was used to further
keyed to approximately a 40 gpm flow in a home with a 15 to reinforce the fortress.

PATTON FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS, INC. Professional Engineers No. F.P.280

P. O. Box 41878 • Sacramento, California 95841 • Phone (916) 338-0943 • California Contractors License No. 355636