The scene of a devastating fire at the family home...

The scene of a devastating fire at the family home of Thomas Sullivan, a police captain in Larchmont. The home is at 19 Wyndham Lane in Carmel. Officials identified the dead as Capt. Thomas Sullivan, 48, who was second in command of the Larchmont force, his wife, Donna, 47, and their children Meghan, 18, and Mairead, 15. The Sullivans' son Tommy Jr. was the only survivor. (May 2, 2012) Credit: Nancy Siesel

In the early morning hours of May 1, tragedy struck the Hudson Valley. A fast-moving fire claimed the lives of four members of the Sullivan family of Carmel. The house was completely engulfed in flames and collapsed within 10 minutes, preventing firefighters from entering and searching for anyone trapped within.

Carmel Fire Chief Robert Lipton stated the house was new lightweight construction that burns very fast. Experts described many of the home's supports as engineered wood products: several pieces of wood glued together or fastened with metal plates.

Eight out of 10 fire deaths occur in the home, usually at night, when families are asleep. The unfortunate loss of life in the Sullivan family most likely would have been prevented if a residential fire sprinkler system had been installed during home construction. The National Fire Protection Association states that the risk of dying in a home protected by sprinklers decreases by about 80 percent, and loss of property by about 70 percent.

Research by the NFPA states the cost to install fire sprinklers in a new home is $1.61 per square foot -- less than the cost to upgrade kitchen cabinets.

I believe the Sullivan family would have survived this tragic fire if only residential fire sprinklers were present in their home, and I ask New Yorkers to support the International Code Council's proposal to require sprinkler systems in all new single- and two-family homes.

Chief Frank J. Sylvester, Ossining

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs.