Designing Spaces: Oscar Mike Foundation Gets Fire Sprinklers!

One of our key messages when educating the public about house fires is how fast fire can become deadly. According to NFPA data, and based on the hundreds of side-by-side burn demonstrations we’ve conducted, deadly flashover can occur in less than two minutes. That is hardly enough time for anyone to escape, especially people with disabilities.

When the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) and the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) were invited to sponsor a project working with the Designing Spaces home improvement show to retrofit a home for vets with disabilities, we didn’t think twice. The more we learned about the Oscar Mike Foundation the more inspired we were, especially as we got to know the organization’s founder Noah Currier.

When you meet Noah, you experience his passion for helping vets with disabilities immediately. When Noah learned that his home would be retrofit with fire sprinklers, he was extremely grateful. Noah served as a Marine for four years. Three days after returning home from Iraq, he was in a tragic car accident that paralyzed him from the neck down. After six years of working through his own challenges, he founded the Oscar Mike Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to keep injured Veterans “On-the-Move” through life-changing adaptive sports programs, experience and events.

The Oscar Mike Compound is a 9,000 square-foot, fully accessible home in Poplar Grove, Illinois. More than a dozen people with disabilities may be in the home at one time during activities. It is also where Noah lives. He knows that surviving a house fire depends on being able to escape. For people with disabilities, that is a terrifying reality. Noah said it takes him 10 minutes to get out of bed, into his wheelchair and outside.

Noah understands better than most how quickly a house fire can become deadly. His dad was in a house fire where he was severely burned and suffered smoke inhalation. The house was a total loss. Noah’s well-founded fear of fire – for himself and for others who visit his home – was completely eased when producers for Designing Spaces heard that his home needed a remodel, and stepped up to make sure it would be protected with residential fire sprinklers. Designing Spaces is a home improvement show that airs on Lifetime. The production team travels across the country to remodel, redecorate, and redesign homes. Retrofitting the Oscar Mike Foundation home with fire sprinklers made perfect sense – an important mission with a vulnerable population. It also made perfect sense for both NFSA and NIFSAB to sponsor the program. United States Alliance Fire Protection (USAFP) was the fire sprinkler contractor that worked with the Designing Spaces team to design and retrofit the system in accordance with NFPA 13D standards.

USAFP President, Chad Huennekens, spent the day at the home during the video production, talking to the show hosts about the retrofit. Chad was interviewed and appears in the segment talking about home fire sprinklers, the project, and how it will protect people in the home. He said he was proud to support the organization. USAFP is owned by the APi Group, a veteran-owned business.

Noah is relieved that his home, the Foundation, and the veterans he serves are protected if fire breaks out. Now the Designing Spaces program will reach thousands of viewers who we hope will learn the same, that fire is fast and home fire sprinklers stop fires from becoming deadly so everyone can get out.

The show featuring the fire sprinkler installation at the Oscar Mike Foundation first aired Thursday, June 6th, at 6:30 am CT on Lifetime. It is a 3-part series with USAFP included in the first segment.