Saturday, July 26, 2014

Many North Texas schools lack fire suppression sprinklers


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Posted on July 24, 2014 at 6:33 PM
GRAND PRAIRIE -- The former Lamar Elementary in Grand Prairie is one of three sites that may be selected to house immigrant children when they come to North Texas.

If this site is chosen, the fire code will require sprinklers be installed. But did you know many kids attend school in campuses throughout North Texas that don’t not have sprinklers at all?

In Grand Prairie, 16 of its 40 schools don't have fire sprinklers. Thirty-six of Fort Worth’s 126 schools lack them. Thirty-seven of Richardson’s 56 schools don’t have sprinkler systems. Dallas ISD has not yet provided statistics to News 8 regarding their schools.

The schools were grandfathered in under older fire codes, but now that immigrant children would actually be sleeping in Lamar, it changes the use of the facility which changes the fire code requirements.

Officials in several school districts say it’s too costly to go in and retrofit existing schools with sprinklers, unless there’s a major renovation to the building or a new school being built.

In the case of Lamar, the federal government would be picking up what’s expected to be a costly tab.

“As we built new schools, as we replace older campuses, that is part of the safety plan,” said Sam Buchmeyer, a Grand Prairie ISD spokesman.

Grand Prairie officials say the plan is that one day all of the district’s schools will have fire sprinklers. In the meantime, they say all of the schools have fire alarms. Fire drills are conducted monthly.

These days, it would be rare for a new school to be built without a sprinkler, experts say.

“Sprinklers not only can not only detect and extinguish a fire in the early stages, but it also helps the occupants in a building to escape and it just keeps the fire in check before the fire department gets there,” said Grand Prairie Fire Chief Robert Fite.

Fire and other experts say sprinklers save taxpayer dollars and insurance money, as well as the interruption that would come from a school being closed for major repairs or replacement.

“These are actually systems that will do something to stop the fire, rather than just notify out it,” said Cecil Bilbo with the Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology. “We quietly save people’s lives, but it’s quiet, because nobody cares when there’s a fire event with a sprinkler system in a facility. No one reads about it. It’s a non-event.”

Bilbo said there are ways to save money in the installation of sprinkler systems, such as using fire-resistant plastic piping and using creative ways to avoid yanking out the ceiling.

Joy Presher’s son will be attending Grand Prairie’s Lee Elementary in the fall. That campus is one of the district’s two schools with partial sprinkler systems. Her son’s classes will be in the older portion of the school, which doesn’t have sprinklers.

Presher’s husband actually installs fire sprinkler systems, so she’s well aware of their value.

“You never know when something can happen with electrical and start a fire,” Presher said. “It helps put it out, so it keeps them safe.”


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Push for sprinklers increases as fires burn faster in new homes


By: Patrick Fazio
6:45 PM, Jul 15, 2014
10:37 PM, Jul 15, 2014

House fires injure or kill thousands of Americans every year and now they are more likely to burn faster than ever.  A new report foundfires spread more quickly in newer homes and homes with newer products and materials – giving people less time to escape.
“We live in homes that are filled with things that burn fast, burn hot, and put out very deadly gas,” said Jason Rhodes, Overland Park Fire Department Media Manager. “We use more products in our home that are synthetic that are made out of petroleum based products - plastics and synthetic fibers - so those things burn quick and hot.”
Just a few decades ago, home furnishings were made mostly of wood, natural fabrics, and metal.  Those tend to take longer to catch fire than plastics and synthetic materials that are now in carpets, couches, and even cell phones.
The new report from Underwriters’ Laboratory found fires burn more quickly nowadays – especially in newer homes which are built more efficiently.
“There's a chance that it's very air tight and it's also filled with perhaps some light weight construction materials that may not last as long when exposed to fire,” Rhodes said.
Home builders also use less construction materials in new homes.
“They're lighter in weight, they can span longer distances and they're very strong.  But in a fire they can collapse much more quickly than conventional wood and that often happens very unexpectedly,” said Ron Hazelton, a home safety expert .
Hazelton is pushing for sprinklers in homes because the report found fires in new homes can become deadly in less than three minutes – much sooner than in older homes. 
“Considering what I'm getting in return which is safety for myself and my kids and my wife, I think (a sprinkler system) is a good investment,” Hazelton told 41 Action News via satellite interview.
Besides saving lives, sprinklers can also help prevent the estimated $7 billion in property damage that fires cause each year.
“Studies have shown they can reduce the amount of damage in a home that were to have a fire by up to 70%,” said Drew Robbins, Vice President of Jayhawk Fire Sprinkler.
The Lenexa, Kansas, based company told 41 Action News that customers who install sprinkler systems usually don’t live close to a fire station or a hydrant.
“They're worried about response times from their fire department,” said Robbins.
The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), which sets fire safety standards across the country, encourages the use of sprinklers in homes and states on its website that just one sprinkler head can contain 85% of fires .
Each sprinkler head is set to operate at a certain temperature.  A sprinkler system can cost thousands of dollars to install in an average sized home being built.
“What we see in the Midwest is normally about $1.50 to $3 a square foot depending on finishes, customizations,” Robbins said, who points out that costs go up to retrofit an existing home with sprinklers.
Most States Don’t Mandate Sprinklers
As of 2011, fire sprinklers are now required in new homes being built in California and Maryland .  
Other states like Missouri failed to approve similar bills. Kansaspassed a law in 2012 that prevents cities and counties from requiring sprinklers in most homes. 
“It's somewhat, in my opinion, counterintuitive that you know the state would mandate that you cannot force people in new construction to install a sprinkler system,” Robbins said.
Home safety expert Ron Hazelton told 41 Action News that he accepts Kansas’ law, even though he promotes sprinklers in homes.
“I understand people don't want houses to be any more expensive but I have fire sprinklers in my own home,” Hazelton said. “I understand the problem, though, of some people not wanting it mandated.”
The Overland Park Fire Department is sympathetic to homeowners who may not have the money to pay for a sprinkler system.
“Fire suppression device of any sort is great to have and the more you can afford and install the better but for some people it's probably impractical,” said Jason Rhodes with OPFD.
Although many people may not be able to afford sprinklers, firefighters and FEMA’s home safety checklist stress the importance of at least having working smoke alarms in all residences.
"We rarely go to a fire that has working smoke alarms and find any kind of victims,” said Rhodes.
While most homes don’t have sprinklers, firefighters say it’s usually the homes without working smoke alarms where they see tragedies.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Balancing passive, active fire protection


Figure 1: This shows dry and wet pipe sprinkler system main risers. All graphics courtesy: Interface Engineering

The International Building Code and NFPA standards provide guidance on passive and active fire protection systems.


Fire protection for buildings and their occupants consists of various elements. This is an overview of the International Building Code’s (IBC) elements and integration of both passive and active fire protection to reinforce one another—and to cover for one another in case of failure of any one element.

Once a fire has started, its impact is influenced by previous choices of combustible objects and construction in the room of origin, which impact the heat released and the path of the fire along vertical and horizontal surfaces.

For successful control, suppression, or extinguishment of fires, the active system, whether it is water, gas, aerosol, or foam, relies on containing and acting on the fire while it is still a manageable size. Once a fire gets beyond the size for which the active system has been designed, the active system can be overwhelmed and ineffective. This is where the active and passive systems work together. 

Passive fire protection provides the final opportunity to stop fire and smoke, and is crucial in confining fire to a manageable size for an active fire protection system to work on.

Active systems
Active systems work to detect, control, suppress, or extinguish fires. They rely on an action to trigger their involvement, either manual, electrical, or mechanical. A detector needs activation of a sensor detecting smoke or heat or flame to send a signal to a notification device such as a bell, a horn, or a strobe to alert occupants and responders or to send an electronic signal to another active protection device such as a valve supplying water or opening a canister of fire-suppressing gaseous agent. Or, the detector can send a signal to a releasing device such as fire door closers or to activate smoke evacuation fans. A sprinkler needs heat to open it, either 1) to melt a heat-sensitive solder that then releases barriers in the sprinkler orifice and to ready the sprinkler to discharge water when it is available, or 2) to boil the fluid in a small glass bulb of the sprinkler, again releasing orifice barriers and preparing the sprinkler for water discharge. Manual pull stations can activate fire alarms notification devices (bells, horns, strobes, etc.) and releasing devices, clean agent suppression systems, and some kinds of sprinkler systems.

Fire alarms—Active fire protection, in the form of fire alarms, tends to activate first, giving occupants the opportunity to evacuate and notifying first responders. Alarms need to be tailored to the building construction type, configuration, and occupancy use. An analysis of the building elements and hazards will dictate whether the best protection can be achieved by ionization or photoelectric smoke detectors, an air aspirating very early smoke detection apparatus (VESDA), or by heat or flame detectors or optical detection methods. IBC 907 and NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code address fire alarms.

Fire alarm effectiveness can be hampered by the choice of inappropriate alarms for the environmental conditions expected, which can cause nuisance activation and ignorance of a real fire event. The second barrier to effectiveness can be human behavior—the tendency of people to ignore the alarm, to decide that the horns and strobes activating are “not the real thing,” and to delay evacuation of the building.

Fire sprinklers—IBC Section 903 and NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems address fire sprinkler systems, which are the most common form of active fire control and suppression. Wet pipe sprinkler systems are the simplest and fastest method of control. Water filled pipes are ready to immediately spray water upon the activation of each individual sprinkler head, which activate due to heat.

Dry pipe sprinkler systems have pipes filled with compressed air or nitrogen gas, which holds the clapper on a dry pipe valve in the closed position. If a sprinkler activates, air pressure is lost in the system, which then allows the dry pipe valve to open to fill the pipes with water, which discharges out of any sprinklers opened by the heat of a fire. Because of the delay in filling the pipes with water and being available to discharge from the sprinklers, the fire area can grow larger and the fire intensity can increase before water is applied. More sprinklers can be expected to open. The result can be a larger area of fire damage and more water damage.

Preaction sprinkler systems also have pipes filled with compressed air or nitrogen, but require activation of a detection device to open a deluge valve to fill the pipes with water. These can be of single- or double-interlock style, depending on the number of events designed to open the deluge valve. These are popular for protection of areas where the risk of inadvertent water application and leaks needs to be minimized: data centers, museums, sensitive hospital equipment rooms, computer server rooms, and the like. Like wet and dry systems, preaction systems only discharge water out of individual sprinklers that have opened due to heat. Unlike wet and dry systems, preaction systems are designed to minimize water damage due to broken sprinklers and/or broken pipes.

Deluge systems have pipes and sprinkler nozzles open to the atmosphere and require a detection device to open a deluge valve, which allows water to discharge from all sprinklers at once—like in Hollywood movies. Unlike the movies, these systems are normally used in high-challenge areas, such as for flammable or combustible liquids protection, but may also be used to protect a corridor opening where a fire rated assembly is required.

Alternate methods of fire protection—In the IBC and International Fire Code Section 904 are listed several alternate methods of fire protection. These include high-pressure water mist systems (fog), and clean agent gaseous suppression systems such as 3MNovec 1230 Fire Protection Fluid and DuPont FM-200 Waterless Fire Suppression Systems, which act as coolants. Inert gas systems employing atmospheric gases that lower the amount of oxygen in a room to levels below those needed to support combustion are active means of fire protection. Other alternate methods include high-pressure water mist systems, where water supplies are limited or where water damage needs to be limited and fixed aerosol extinguishing systems, CO2 extinguishing systems, and various types of foam systems. 
The old Halon gas systems have been banned in most areas of the world due to environmental issues. IFC Section 904 and NFPA Standards 16, 17, 2001, and 2010 address these alternate systems.

Figure 2: This wet class I standpipe has a 25-in. hose valve and is located in a stairwell protected by fire-rated construction. It acts as an interior hydrant source for responding firefighters. Standpipes—In buildings of a certain height or use and located in stairwells and certain horizontal exits, standpipes are a system of piping and fire hose valves that act as vertical sources of water for firefighting, similar to fire hydrants in the street. Standpipes can be filled with water (wet) or empty (dry) with water supplied by fire responders. If wet, the pressure to operate them can be supplied by fire responders (manual) or automatically, usually by a fire pump. IBC Section 905 and NFPA 14: Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems address standpipes.

Handheld extinguishers—IBC Section 906 and NFPA 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers dictate the type and placement of handheld fire extinguishers for occupant use, depending on the hazards present in the building.

Passive fire protection systems
Passive systems require no external power. They can be grouped into three categories: limiting the growth rate of the fire, compartmentation of the fire, and providing emergency egress from fire areas.

Limiting the rate of fire growth and subsequent smoke—Fire growth can be limited to some extent by choice of interior finishes that limit ignition, flame spread, and heat release, allowing more time for active fire protection systems to activate and more time for safe occupant evacuation. Wall and ceiling finishes and floor coverings cover large surfaces. If these ignite easily, they can have a significant effect on the spread of fire and can lead to “flashover” of the hot gases in the room, from which there is no survivability. For this reason, materials for interior finishes may be subject to specialized testing to determine their flame spread rating. Fires generate particulate matter, which hangs suspended in the air, obscuring visualization of exit signs. The distance at which an exit sign is obscured by smoke is directly affected by the amount of smoke. For this reason, the building codes limit interior finishes that produce an excessive amount of smoke. Most model building codes do not address the issue of the toxicity of smoke and gases produced by fire.

Compartmentation—If the limitation of interior finishes and active fire protection measures such as detection and suppression fail to limit the fire to the room of origin, the next strategy is to contain the fire and smoke within a certain zone for a certain amount of time, delaying flame and smoke spread throughout the building. 

Compartmentation is a passive method of fire protection that confines smoke and fire into zones. It works to protect the building’s structural integrity and provides protected spaces through which building occupants can evacuate. Fire-resistive structural elements, floors, ceilings/roofs, and walls are critical. Equally important is protection of doors and windows and protection of structural penetrations, such as pipe, cable, electrical conduit, and duct penetrations. Fire and smoke dampers to prevent the passage of smoke within building systems, such as HVAC systems, are also crucial. Fire can adversely affect load bearing assemblies that need to remain effective for their specified time to prevent collapse of the building or portions thereof, to prevent the spread of fire and smoke, and to prevent injury and death of occupants and firefighters.

Fire spread at exterior facades, which may include plastics, exterior insulation finish systems (EIFS), and flammable exterior claddings and roofing materials, is limited by the IBC.

Emergency egress/occupant evacuation—Successful occupant evacuation depends on effective fire and smoke detection by the fire alarm system and subsequent notification to alert occupants and to direct them, via visual signs or audible devices, to safe areas inside or outside the building. Successful occupant evacuation also depends on knowledge of the occupant. Stairs and corridors need to be wide enough and of sufficient number and location to accommodate the flow of occupant evacuation during an emergency.

Kathleen Roach is associate principal and senior fire/life safety designer at Interface Engineering. She has approximately 20 years of experience in fire protection design and strong technical knowledge of codes, standards, and recommended practices. Her work includes specification and design for fire suppression systems and fire/life safety reviews.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Is your home prepared for a possible fire?


7 people died in an apartment fire in Lowell

Published: Updated: 

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A working smoke detector is a must, and if possible, consider living in a building that has a sprinkler system.
Fire gutted an apartment building in Lowell early Thursday. Dozens of residents escaped, but 7 people, including 3 children, did not. “The victims are found in two of the third floor apartments.”
The century-old building did not have a sprinkler system; a tragic wake up call for some people. According to David Lafond of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, “There is no other device known that is more effective at extinguishing fire quickly. It’s the fastest way that you can get water on a fire.”
Former Holyoke Fire Chief David Lafond told 22News kids and the elderly have difficulties escaping a fire quickly. So a sprinkler system could save their lives. The expense totals between 1 to 1.5% of the total building cost.
Right now in Massachusetts, individual homes are not required to have sprinklers, but there are ongoing efforts to pass a bill that would give local cities and towns an option to require sprinklers in all new one or two family homes.
Fire officials urge everyone, no matter where you live, to have working smoke detectors near your bedroom. Lt. CJ Bartone of the West Springfield Fire Department told 22News, “You may not actually hear the detector if the detector was working on the other side of the house. Putting one not only in the common areas, in the hallways, but also in the bedrooms, when you’re sleeping at night, a working detector should alert them.”
You should change the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year, and remember to check the expiration dates for the detectors. Some need to replace every 10 years.
As for the deadly fire in Lowell, a relative has identified five family members who died. Torn Sak, and his girlfriend, Ellen Vuong, died along with three of their children; a 7-year-old girl, a 9-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy.
Two other people were killed, and nine residents remain hospitalized.

Thursday, July 10, 2014



Wednesday, 09 July 2014 10:30

  Don Devendorf
Residential Fire Sprinkler System Saves Prescott Home and Belongings

Originally, the homeowner didn't want the sprinklers. Now they are so thankful they had them.

At approximately 12:50 PM on Tuesday July1, 2014, the Prescott Fire and Medical Department responded to a reported structure fire, with “flames and smoke showing” from the garage, at a home located at 605 Robin Drive in The Crossings subdivision on the north side of Prescott.
A full structure fire assignment, fire trucks, chiefs, ambulances, police officers, all responded. On arrival, the first due Engine Company reported that the fire was out and there were no injuries. All other responding units went available and returned to quarters.
How did “flames and smoke showing” end up as “the fire was out” before we even got there? The answer lies in an eight dollar fire sprinkler head. “I think that every house should have sprinklers!”, said Leslie McDonald, who owns the home with her husband Jim. I asked Leslie and Jim if I could use their experience with a fire and a home equipped with a residential fire sprinkler system and received an emphatic “yes” from both of them. Why would they be so willing say “yes”? The answer may be in the fact that a fire in their garage, that neither of them knew about, Leslie in the house and Jim in the back yard, was extinguished by a single fire sprinkler head before Leslie could get her garden hose turned on.
“I was in the house and heard a loud bang.” “I thought Jim had just put something up against the wall outside.” It wasn’t Jim. The next thing Leslie knew was that her neighbor, Rick Sprain, was banging on her door telling her that her house was on fire. As Leslie ran outside, she saw smoke and flames coming out of her open garage door. In the garage, a classic car, an SUV, a motorcycle, and other garage typical items, including many of Jim’s radio controlled airplanes, barely visible now through the smoke. As Leslie turned on her garden hose to try to put the fire out, what she saw was black smoke turn to white, flames that were approaching the ceiling were now down to the floor and almost non-existent, and a bell started to ring. That bell, which Jim still didn’t hear in the back yard, was the sign the sprinkler system had been activated and water was flowing.
“Thank God the fire sprinklers worked” said Leslie. I asked what she thought when they built their home and were told that they needed to install fire sprinklers. “The first thing I thought was that I was going to have to cut some upgrades to pay for the eight thousand dollar system”. She was very pragmatic about the decision though, “We wanted our house set back further from the street. That decision meant that we had to install sprinkler, but that’s what we wanted”. Looking at the tens of thousands of dollars of items in the garage that were completely undamaged, with only a charred work bench and water on the garage floor, the McDonalds were easily able to do the math: their eight thousand dollar system had saved 10, 20, 80 times that amount. Estimated loss from the fire was $1000 with what was saved estimated to be over $600,000 in the building and its contents. Not a bad return on their investment.
A common misconception about residential fire sprinklers was stated by Jim; “I thought all the sprinkler heads went off at once!” He was obviously quite happy about the fact that his system operated as it was designed, as they are all designed, so that only the number of heads that need to spray water in order to control the fire will go off. In Jim and Leslie’s case, one sprinkler head, flowing 13 gallons of water per minute, was all that it took to keep what could have been a tremendous loss down to a work bench and some batteries.
Another thing the McDonald’s didn’t know when they were required to install sprinklers: 8 out of 10 fire deaths occur in the home. The combination of working smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers reduces the likelihood of death from fire by more than 80 percent- smoke alarms alone- 50 percent. Smoke alarms let you know there is a fire but they do nothing to extinguish the fire.
The cause of the fire was determined to be overheated batteries that were being charged on the work bench. Jim told investigators that he had just plugged in some batteries that operate his radio controlled airplanes before going in the back yard to do some work. “I’ve had friends that this has happened to”. One of his friends had even lost a vehicle when the batteries that he was charging using the cigarette lighter plug caught fire and destroyed the car.
As a firefighter, I’ve seen so many families sorting through what was left of their lives and belongings after a fire. No matter how many times you witness that ceremony, it always makes you sad. They pack what they can salvage to move to a hotel, or a friend’s house, for however long it takes to rebuild their homes and lives. It doesn’t take a life loss to adversely affect those who have gone through a fire. There is significant pain and suffering when only property is lost. The property is their lives, their parents, grandparents, and children’s memories; things that cannot be replaced. Not this time. It was a great feeling to see the last little bit of water being swept out of the garage, as Jim offered us some cold water out of the fridge in his garage, the one that wasn’t damaged, before going into his undamaged home to continue his day.
How Jim will charge his batteries in the future is yet to be determined, but he did know that his fire sprinkler system needed to put back in service as soon as possible. It was, before fire personnel left the scene.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Apartment sprinkler extinguishes grill fire in Plano


Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 11:03 am

Plano Fire Department logo

Plano Fire-Rescue crews were dispatched to an apartment fire in the 6300 block of Windhaven Parkway at the Livingston Apartments just after midnight Tuesday. The fire was reported to have started when a grill caught the second floor apartment’s balcony on fire. Before fire crews arrived, the apartment’s fire sprinkler system activated on the balcony and extinguished the fire.
Fire crews arrived, shut off the water to the sprinkler system and began an investigation of the fire. Residents of the apartment had been grilling on the balcony and told fire officials that the grill malfunctioned and started other items on the balcony on fire. The residents attempted to extinguish the fire themselves with water from the kitchen before the apartment’s fire sprinkler system activated and extinguished the fire. No other part of the apartment was affected by the fire.
Plano’s fire code prohibits the storage or use of open flame or charcoal grills on combustible balconies and decks, or within 10 feet of combustible construction unless the balcony or deck is fitted with fire sprinklers as this apartment balcony was.
“This is an example of a fire that exemplifies why it’s so important to have these codes in place,” said Fire Chief Brian Crawford. “Had the apartment and its balcony not been fitted with residential fire sprinklers, this fire had the potential to grow much larger and affect many residents. Plano is fortunate to have a large number of apartment complexes with fire sprinklers.”

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Letter: Sprinkler systems and fire safety


July 7, 2014

To the editor:
Many in Massachusetts may be too young to remember the tragic events that unfolded on July 4, 1984, but many thousands of people have likely benefitted from the changes that took place soon afterward.
At around 4 a.m. on July 4, 1984, a fire began outside of a rooming house known as The Elliot Chambers o Rantoul Street in Beverly. There were 36 people staying at the Elliot Chambers that night, but 14 people never made it out and one more life was lost a month later from severe burns. Firefighter and survivor accounts of that tragic day leave little to the imagination of the horror that was experienced.
Soon after the fire, Massachusetts enacted legislation that would give all communities in the state the option to require fire sprinkler systems be installed in all rooming houses (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 148, Section 26H). The legislation led to a significant and steady decrease in the number of fatal rooming house fires throughout Massachusetts and undoubtedly saved lives.
Fortunately, Massachusetts has not seen a fire with such tragic results in 30 years. However, at the time that I am writing this letter, 27 fire fatalities had been reported in Massachusetts since June 1, 2013.
Though many of these lives were lost in separate incidents, it does not change the fact that if legislation was passed that would allow communities to locally adopt the installation of fire sprinkler systems in newly constructed one and two-family homes, lives would be saved.
Currently there is legislation that would make this possible. If the 2015 state budget is signed with with Sections 77, 78 and 79 of Senate Bill No. 2160 (fire sprinklers in 1 & 2 family homes) in place, local Massachusetts municipalities across the commonwealth would be able to decide on the level of fire protection they want to offer their citizens. The local option of this legislation puts to rest the argument against residential fire sprinklers based on a lack of interest and infrastructure allowing only the municipalities that want to enact the legislation to do so.
This past weekend, we celebrated how far this nation has come since 1776. But let’s remember also how far Massachusetts has come since 1984. I urge you to check the batteries in your smoke alarms, to learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from the ravages of fire — and to support local option residential fire sprinkler system legislation.
New England Regional Manager
National Fire Sprinkler Association

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fire Safety Company Offer Restaurant Owners Protection from Arsonist Fires


 July 03, 2014

Aura Fire Safety, a San Francisco fire sprinkler inspection company, offers valuable fire safety tips for local San Francisco restaurants, due to a recent arson outbreak. Over 50% of restaurants are not properly prepared for fires that can ruin a business.
( -- July 3, 2014) San FranciscoCA -- Each year fires kill more people in the U.S. than all natural disasters combined.  Recently, San Francisco has been the victim of an arsonist (or group of arsonists) going on a rampage burning dumpster after dumpster.  When it comes to an arsonist we are addressing a specific group of people who have complex motives justifying the harm they manifest. 

Typically, the news reports these types of citizens as having some type of mental illness, unusual family history, even being attention seekers.  Despite the reason, the end result is always the same – millions of dollars in damage and in extreme cases, the senseless loss of life.  With the outbreak of arson fires, Aura Fire Safety is offering valuable information on how restaurant owners can protect their valuable property.

How do Fire Sprinklers protect my San Francisco Restaurant?

Did you know 57% of restaurant fires involve cooking equipment?  That is an astonishing number when it comes to fire safety.  According to data tabulated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Quincy, Mass between 2006-2010 around the United States nearly 8,000 restaurants reported a fire each year costing an annual average of $246 million in direct property damage.  Unfortunately, these numbers have not slowed down.  

Photo of man promoting fire safety 
Fire Safety: San Fran Restaurants
It doesn’t help your cause when arsonists are setting dumpster after dumper on fire throughout San Francisco, as reported by Holly Quan from CBS San Francisco.  Despite codes and measures San Francisco has in place to ensure fires will be suppressed, preventing arsonists from creating destruction is an entirely different beast few enjoy thinking about, but a serious reality for those living in San Francisco. 

       Staff Training is a MUST

As a restaurant owner you already have a lot on your plate, no pun intended.  This is why you hired a team to run your business.  Now you need to take measures to ensure your staff knows the correct actions to take to prevent a fire.

Your Restaurant Staff should be familiar with:  
  • How to properly use a fire extinguisher.
  • How to properly use chemical solutions.
  • How to properly store flammable liquids.
  • How to maintain a clean kitchen by removing grease. 
What if a fire happens on accident?

Remember, you can’t control every event in your life, but you can be prepared.  Proper training is essential when it comes to fire safety and it starts with the people who are nearest to you.  They need to know how to protect themselves and how to guide customers to safety.   

Don’t assume everyone on your staff knows what to do.  Take the time to have a team meeting and get everyone on your staff on the same page.  The difference of a thirty-minute training session has the ability to save you millions of dollars in potential fire damage.      

Here are a few key things your Restaurant staff should know when it comes to fire protection:
  • Never throw water on a grease fire, doing so will cause the grease to fly and fire to rapidly spread.
  • Have an evacuation plan in place.  Give everyone on your team a role should you need to evacuate your restaurant.  Your staff should be familiar with exits, fire extinguisher locations and the lead manager of the day should be responsible for calling 911.
  • Train your staff on how to power down your restaurant.  Plan for this type of training every few months so your staff feels comfortable with the steps they need to take to ensure proper fire protection.   
  • Keep the workspace clear of fire hazards.  This means everyday making sure paper products, food, trash, are away from heat and cooking sources.
Having a fire sprinkler system installed is a smart preventive measure IF used correctly.  Most of the time fire sprinklers are perceived as smoke detectors – we see them on the wall and think they’re working.  But how many times have you checked your smoke detector and realized the battery needed to be changed months ago? 

Fire sprinklers are the same way.  Most people set them up and forget they exist.  We assume they’re doing their job 24/7.  Having them installed in your restaurant is great, but in order to be truly effective in fire protection there are a few things to remember.

If you have a sprinkler system installed, be sure to check the following: 
  • Has the fire sprinkler system been inspected and tagged by a qualified contractor within the past year?
  • Is there at least three feet of clear space around sprinkler connections and valves?
  • Are spare sprinkler heads and an appropriate wrench installed in a cabinet near the sprinkler riser?
  • Are sprinkler control valves chained open or maintained by a fire alarm system?
  • Is the fire department connection on the outside of the building free of obstruction and are the caps in place? 
By taking these critical preventive steps, a restaurant owner can significant reduce their risk of fire damage.   Even with these precautionary measures, it may be worthwhile to consult with an expert to ensure that the business is completely protected from possible fire damage.

Visit and look for our case studies and check out what our clients are saying.  If you want to speak with a fire specialist don’t hesitate to call and give us a call at 415 – 881- 4402.  Our business hours are M-F, 9am – 5pm PST.  Our staff is here to help.  Call now to ensure your restaurant is setup for success against any potential fire disasters.  Our turnaround time is within 24 hours so expect to see results.   

To Contact Aura Fire Safety about Fire Safety:


Aura Fire Safety Inc.

1288 Columbus Ave. #177
San FranciscoCA United States 94133
415- 881-4402