Fire shows benefits of sprinklers

The fire sprinkler-protected room, prior to the sprinkler activation. - Courtesy photo
The fire sprinkler-protected room, prior to the sprinkler activation.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Fire District partnered with the Snohomish County Fire Chiefs Association to intentionally light two fires for a live audience Nov. 18 at 1:30 p.m. outside of Marysville City Hall.

Marysville Fire District Chief Greg Corn touted the demonstration as a way to illustrate not only the benefits of home fire sprinklers, but also why a typical home fire becomes deadly in three minutes or less.

“Sometimes people just need to see it to believe it,” Corn said. “There’s nothing like the heat and smoke of a real fire to help adults and children understand just how fast a home fire is. With our side-by-side comparison, we can show both the danger of fire and the value of having a fire sprinkler system installed.”

Firefighters built two structures, each simulating a room in a typical home, with each one containing common furnishings, window treatments and a working smoke alarm, but only one of the two containing a fire sprinkler.

The Marysville Fire District and Getchell Fire had firefighters and fire trucks on scene, while the Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s Office, the Lake Stevens Fire District, E and E Lumber and Wolfe Heat and Fire contributed financial support to the event. The non-profit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition also secured a federal Fire Prevention and Safety Grant to develop a free kit to help fire departments build and present such side-by-side fire and sprinkler burn demonstrations in their communities.

Corn noted that it takes an average of nine to 12 minutes for firefighters to arrive on scene after an emergency call, which is time enough for a home fire to spread, cause smoke and heat damage and threaten the lives of the residents. He added that fires in homes with sprinklers are controlled almost immediately, limiting damage and protecting both residents and first responders.

Local and national fire safety experts say widespread use of home fire sprinkler systems could save thousands of lives each year. Sprinklers are activated only by the high temperature of a fire, typically between 135-165 degrees Fahrenheit. Burned toast or other smoke cannot set off a sprinkler, nor can a smoke alarm that activates.

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