Deadly Las Vegas Fire Underscores the Importance of Fire Sprinklers

Las Vegas, NV, Dec. 23, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On December 21st, an early morning fire in a Las Vegas apartment building claimed the lives of six people, with reports of more injured, several of those in critical condition. Las Vegas Fire Rescue officials have stated that the fire appears to be accidental. This fatal fire comes during a time of year that families are gathering for the holidays. As described by Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, it was the “perfect storm” for these tragedies because the volume of material in the building, as well as the number of people. The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) sends its prayers and condolences to the families of those killed, those injured, and those traumatized by the response to the incident.

According to Las Vegas Fire Rescue Public Information Officer (PIO) Tim Szymanski, this is the “worst fire fatality incident in the City of Las Vegas since the inception of the Fire Department”. This is the largest loss of life in Clark County, Nevada since the MGM Grand Hotel Fire on November 21st, 1980. We know from reports of this recent incident, that the fire was contained within minutes of the fire departments arrival. However, firefighters were rescuing people jumping from windows.

Research from Underwriters Laboratories Firefighter Safety Research Institute (ULFSRI) proves to us how fast fire is with modern furnishings, regardless of the year the building was built. As pointed out by fire officials and media at the scene of the fire, the volume of materials in the building, especially this time of year, and the fact that so many are synthetic materials, contributed to this fire being so deadly. This is what the NFSA and many of our partners around the country demonstrate in our side-by-side burn/training units. Fire is fast, and modern furnishings can be deadly without the protection of automatic fire sprinklers.

Automatic fire sprinkler systems are widely recognized as an essential element of fire safety. Our demonstration units emphasize smoke alarms, fire sprinklers, and firefighters. It is obvious which one of those elements was missing from this deadly fire. Properly installed fire sprinklers respond to fires before the heat, flames, and smoke spread throughout the building. Therefore, the rate of death as a result of home fires is 81 percent lower in homes with sprinklers. The Federal Fire Safety Act of 1992 required the installation of sprinklers in all new government-owned high rise buildings. However, there are thousands of public housing apartment buildings around the country built before that date.

We send our sincere sympathies to those affected by this fire. We commend Las Vegas Fire & Rescue for their efforts and service to the community during this event. I would also like to recognize the City of Las Vegas as having the most fire safe high-rise district in the world and more recently for requiring fire sprinklers in all new residential properties in the city” ~NFSA President Shane Ray

The building where today’s tragic fire occurred appears to be built in 1972 and did not have fire sprinklers. Examples like this point out the important role that fire sprinklers play in community fire protection and the need to ensure fire sprinklers are in all multifamily and high-rise residential properties regardless of the year they were built.

Even though there were fire sprinkler incentives for small businesses included in the 2017 Tax Cuts ad Jobs Act, they would not be applicable for this apartment building because it is a residential occupancy. There are currently two (2) federal legislative bills filed in Congress, the first being a High-Rise Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act (HR4685) and the second being the Public Housing Fire Safety Act of 2019, just filed last week by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) following the deadly Minnesota high-rise fire in HUD housing. We encourage legislators to realize that their efforts are needed to see all of these vulnerable occupancies have fire protection that includes smoke alarms, fire sprinklers, and a well-equipped fire department.

About the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA): NFSA was founded in 1905 and wants to create a more fire safe world, and works to heighten the awareness of the importance of fire sprinkler systems from homes to high-rise and all occupancies in between. The Association is an inclusive organization made up of dedicated and committed members of a progressive life-saving industry. This industry manufactures, designs, supplies, installs, inspects, and services the world’s most effective system in saving lives and property from uncontrolled structural fires.

For more information about fire sprinklers, how they work and access to additional resources and information, visit for the latest material, statistics and a dedicated team of fire safety advocates ready to serve all stakeholders in order to fulfill the vision of a safer world.

Vickie Pritchett
National Fire Sprinkler Association