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Keynote presentation - Princella Lee Bridges


Burn survivor Princella Lee Bridges speaks at the Home Fire Sprinkler Summit in Chicago, April 2012

Princella Lee Bridges of Greenville, South Carolina, is a  former operating room nurse and Desert Storm war veteran who was burned on 49% of her body in a home fire in 1992. 

Because of the severity of her burns, Princella spent two-and-a-half months in a medically-induced coma and underwent numerous painful and time-consuming surgeries. She wondered whether the ongoing process was worth it as she saw the toll it began to take on every aspect of her life. But through it all, Princella remained determined to ensure what happened to her didn't happen to other people.

"America, we’ve got to wake up," said Princella at NFPA's Home Fire Sprinkler Summit in Chicago. "My quest is to make it very clear that what I’ve had to go through as a burn survivor does not happen to the people and the little children that continue to get burned in home fires today. I’m also speaking for the voices you can’t hear, those who have lost their lives in home fires. They can’t speak any more. I have to speak for them because I got a second chance. It’s no longer about me; it’s about doing the right thing."

Princella has become an advocate for burn survivors through Bridges from Augusta Inc., a nonprofit organization she founded to help individuals and families who have suffered burn injuries and trauma as they transition back into the community. She is also an outspoken supporter for home fire sprinklers. 

"When I learned how long sprinklers have been available, it made me mad," she said. "This is 2012 and there is no reason we need to continue building substandard homes. To build new homes without sprinklers and to allow someone to live there is unethical. We didn't do all we could do make it safe." 

Burn survivor Princella Lee Bridges receives a standing ovation at the Home Fire Sprinkler Summit in Chicago, April 2012
Princella receives a standing ovation from attendees at NFPA's Home Fire Sprinkler Summit.

Princella is featured in NFPA's "Faces of Fire" campaign, designed to put a face on the life-saving impact of home sprinklers. With funding from the U.S. Fire Administration, this campaign features real people telling personal stories to demonstrate the need for sprinklers. In this "Faces of Fire" video, she talks about how a quick turn of events and the blur of maternal instinct and panic changed her life forever.