Some of you may remember Guardian Safety Solutions International, Inc. (GSSI), our Texas corporation, as Twenty First Century Fire Equipment, a name we proudly served under for more than 20 years. We changed the named in 2008 to reflect the growing number of fires and the solutions we provide.
The fire statistics are startling. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking was involved in a reported 156,400 home fires in 2010. These fires caused 410 deaths, 5,310 injuries and almost $100 million in direct property damage. Those were reported fires, but it is estimated that more than 12 million unintentional home cooking fires go unreported and cause 640,000 injuries annually. As many as 60 percent of apartment fires are started by cooking equipment. More than 1,200 Americans over the age of 65 are dying and more than 3,000 are injured due to residential cooking fires each year.
While these statistics offer a glimpse into the “national problem” that exists today in the residential market place, GSSI has been successful in offering an alternative to commercial restaurant systems in order to protect small residential stoves in “public assembly areas” where the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) requires fire protection. For many years, we have joined with state organizations like FEDOT around the country to offer solutions to their members that address these types of installations. Currently, we have more than 500 distributors across the US, which are actively engaged in installing and maintaining the Guardian systems in their respective geographical area with tremendous success. Our distributors have found that with the support of their local AHJ, there are new markets that have opened up for them, which is an additional revenue stream in this tight economy.
We know that as well as generating revenue with sales of the Guardian systems, they have saved lives and millions of dollars in property damage. We have worked side by side with them installing Guardian systems in public assembly locations such as healthcare facilities, apartments, daycare centers, retirement communities, churches, home economic laboratories in schools and universities or any location where the AHJ can require it. But we have much work left to do.
In fact, the new NFPA Life Safety Code 101 now requires suppression systems to be installed in new healthcare facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes and limited care facilities where a residential stove is used. This is a major step forward and gives us all a lot more opportunity to save lives. It’s a good time to remember that with the recession and the concurrent reduction in fire fighter staffing seen in cities big and small, it is smart to encourage your customers to look at fire prevention, reduction and suppression as even more important.
We currently are distributing Op Ed pieces that I wrote to senior publications and the insurance industry reminding them of the huge apartment market where fires are reported on a daily basis and many more lives could be saved.
Another important consideration for all of us in the fire protection industry is that the number of seniors is skyrocketing. According to US News, between 2000 and 2010, the number of people age 65 to 84 in the U.S. grew by 3.3 million, and the 40 million senior citizens in 2012 will balloon to 89 million by 2050. This situation is a wakeup call to those in the senior housing industry, as well as to the adult children of the elderly. Developers spend millions building beautiful retirement communities with many amenities that cater to people over 55, but may not consider that distraction, forgetfulness and memory loss can pose significant dangers to residents who cook. This is another area where we can work diligently together with FEDOT to educate developers and others about suppression systems.
We at GSSI have been proud to work with FEDOT and others throughout the country to install fire suppression systems and save lives. We are eager to help you in any way we can.