Friday, September 20, 2013

Sprinklers Could Have Saved Seaside Boardwalk, Fire Expert Says


Last Thursday’s boardwalk fire in Seaside destroyed over 50 business and dealt millions of dollars in damage, but it could have been prevented with the addition of simple sprinkler systems, says a fire prevention expert.
Spencer Platt, Getty Images
David Kurasz, Executive Director of the Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, is confident that had more businesses installed sprinkler systems, the fire wouldn’t have been nearly as destructive.
“Had the area of origin where the Biscayne Candy shop and the Kohrs building are had a fire sprinkler system, then that fire would have been stopped and contained to that building of origin.”
He notes there are no universal rules mandating boardwalk businesses install sprinkler systems, but rather based on the occupancy and size of the structure. He pointed out the two buildings with sprinkler systems fared the best.
“You did find that two of the clubs, the Beachcomber and the Sawmill had fire sprinkler systems, and that’s generally because of the occupancy.”
Kurasz says, unfortunately, many businesses are not required to have sprinkler systems installed and owners choose to not have them as a cost saving measure.
“It does come down to the business owner and they are faced with a lot of financial decisions to make and, unfortunately, sprinkler systems are just not in the budget. That’s a shame because you see the results of last week’s fire.”
Kurasz says installing fire suppression systems into a structure as it’s being built is significantly cheaper than retrofitting. However, many businesses who were rebuilding on the Seaside boardwalk did not choose to install them – even if they should have.
“I want to say coming out of Trenton and the government they kind of said ‘hey, let’s get these people back in, let’s not beat them up according to current code.’ There’s a lot more codes now that require more spacing in between different buildings.”
Should boardwalk businesses be required to have sprinkler systems?

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