Sunday, September 21, 2014

How Fire Sprinkler Systems Could Save Your Life

from kcyw13.con

Posted: Sat 5:01 PM, Sep 20, 2014

The number one cause of a house fire starts in the kitchen...
And after a series of house fires in the Casper area this past week, a demonstration in Douglas shows how important it is to have fire sprinklers installed.
In this demonstration, fire officials setup two rooms that are identically furnished with the exception that one of the rooms has a fire sprinkler.... and as you'll see, sometimes sprinklers can extinguish flames before firefighters arrive.
Captain Justin Smith of Casper Fire Dept. says, "unfortunately about 3,000 people die every year in our country from fires and 80% of those people die in their homes and that's more than all natural disasters combined."
Smith says "flash-over" is a term used when a room or building is completely engulfed in flames... and sprinkler systems are a big advantage in that type of scenario.
"It usually only takes about 3 to 4 minutes for that entire room to flash-over. The problem with flash-over is that no one survives flash-over. Even firefighters that turnout here will not survive a flash-over."
Fire officials say having a sprinkler system installed in your home is a priceless investment.
Eric Gleason of National Fire Sprinkler Association says, "you can't unburn your house. You can dry things out. Your pictures are there. Your dog is sopping wet, but alive."
And fires spread faster nowadays because the materials used to build houses are more flammable than they were 40 years ago.
"If you think about your grandparents, my grandparents, their furnishings were you know it was wool it was cotton it was natural fibers. Now, it's mostly foam. Well, foam is made out of a petroleum-based product."
Typically, sprinkler systems get a head start on extinguishing the fire.
Smith says, "and the great thing about sprinklers is they put the fire out while it's still very small. So we don't have all that heat and smoke produced that generally that's what harms people."
Gleason adds, "your pet is going to be upstairs hiding in a closet, your four-year-old is going to be upstairs hiding in a closet. If it has sprinklers, they're going to survive."
A typical handheld fire hose can release 150 gallons of water per minute, while a standard sprinkler system can release about 15 gallons per minute.
Casper Fire Captain Justin Smith says sprinkler systems are not mandatory in new construction in Casper and Douglas.
The fire officials who participated in Saturday's demonstration would like to thank the Salvation Army for donating the furniture used.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fire officials present sizzling display of sprinklers' worth


Devices in homes can save property, lives, Dunaway says

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter
When it comes to installing sprinklers, Clark County Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway said that to him, the decision is pretty obvious.
"The obstacles are not that great, the costs are not that great and the benefits are many," Dunaway said.
Officials from Oregon and Washington met Thursday in Vancouver to discuss just how beneficial sprinklers are when it comes to residential fire safety.
The first Northwest Residential Fire Sprinkler Summit brought together fire personnel, builders and officials, water purveyors, insurance representatives and fire sprinkler contractors to share information.
A live-burn demonstration showed how sprinklers can minimize damage and increase safety. After firefighters set fire to the half of a trailer outfitted with sprinklers, the fire was out within a minute and a half. The side without sprinklers was a fully involved blaze in about three minutes.
One of the hoped-for outcomes of the conference, Dunaway said, is how to better educate the public about sprinklers. For example, the incorrect myths around sprinklers include: they flood buildings; they are set off by smoke, steam or a smoke detector; and if one goes off, they all go off.
"They're inexpensive and they're faster than the fire department can get there," Dunaway said.
The conference also tackled topics such as water needs and how communities can plan to get a residential fire sprinkler ordinance passed.
Dunaway said Clark County doesn't have that ordinance, but it is something he's talked to commissioners about in the past.
"It's something I'd like to approach them about in the future," he said.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Plano Fire-Rescue to hold fire sprinkler demo Saturday


Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 1:11 pm | Updated: 3:33 pm, Wed Sep 17, 2014.

Plano Fire-Rescue logo NEW

Plano Fire-Rescue will stage a side-by-side residential fire sprinkler demonstration Saturday at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.
The demonstration is scheduled for 4 p.m. on the same field where the evening balloon launch will take place at 6 p.m. The side-by-side burn will demonstrate the powerful role residential fire sprinklers play in controlling home fires and will compare two bedroom fires; one fitted with fire sprinklers, the other without.
“Residential fire sprinklers provide valuable time to escape a fire and save belongings,” said Fire Marshal David Kerr. “The demonstration taking place Saturday will show the speed of fire growth with today’s modern combustible furnishings and how residential fire sprinklers fight the fire well before the arrival of firefighters.”
To date, Plano has experienced 97 residential fire sprinkler saves. Across the US, 85 percent of all fire deaths occur in residences. In a home with fire sprinklers, the average property loss per fire is cut by about 70 percent compared to fires where there are no sprinklers.
Along with Plano Fire-Rescue, the sponsors for Saturday’s demonstration are Plano Balloon Festival, Texas Fire Sprinkler Coalition and Plumbers Continuing Education.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Crews gain ground as California wildfire threatens hundreds of homes

from reuters

Sun Sep 14, 2014 6:18pm EDT


(Reuters) - Firefighters were making slow progress on Sunday in a battle to contain a wildfire that has roared through 1,600 acres of drought-stricken forest southeast of Los Angeles and displaced hundreds of people from their homes, the U.S. Forest Service said.
The Silverado Fire, which broke out Friday morning in the Cleveland National Forest, was 20 percent contained with 1,600 acres (647 hectares) charred as of Sunday, authorities said.
"Crews have gotten by the steepest, most rugged terrain," said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jim Wilkins. "We are at 20 percent containment but that number should start going up rapidly now."
Three firefighters suffered minor injuries as more than 1,000 firefighters backed by nine helicopters were working around the clock to contain the blaze, which spread rapidly on Saturday as a heat wave gripped the state.
California is in its third year of a devastating drought, leaving bone-dry brush and chaparral that is feeding the wildfire.
"It has been well over 100 degrees here. It's very strenuous work," said Wilkins.
Evacuation orders remained in effect Sunday for 217 homes in and around Silverado Canyon, a gorge in the Santa Ana Mountains, officials said.
This year's wildfire season, which typically runs from May until October, was on track to be the most destructive on record, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Seattle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Builder cited over sprinklers in San Francisco fire

from sfgate

Henry K. Lee

Updated 4:57 pm, Friday, September 12, 2014

Smoke could be seen coming from the windows of hotel being renovated Monday August 4, 2014. San Francisco firefighters battled a smokey fire at the shuttered Renoir Hotel on McAllister Street. Fire crews closed Market Street and adjoining avenues pouring water into the hotel. Photo: Brant Ward, San Francisco Chronicle
Photo: Brant Ward, San Francisco Chronicle
(09-12) 16:56 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Fire Department issued two citations to a company in charge of a $30 million renovation of the shuttered Renoir Hotel near Civic Center for improperly removing sprinkler systems, a department spokeswoman said Friday.
Build Group Inc. of San Francisco was fined $1,000 for removing or disabling sprinklers at the hotel, which went up in flames in a three-alarm fire Aug. 4 that injured seven construction workers.
A spark, ember or flame from a welding torch being used in a second-floor crawl space caused the fire at 45 McAllister St., said Mindy Talmadge, a Fire Department spokeswoman.
The fire could have been more easily controlled had the sprinklers remained in place, Talmadge said.
Build Group is seismically upgrading and remodeling the seven-story, 83,300-square-foot building that formerly housed the Renoir Hotel. It will become a "high-end boutique hotel with 135 rooms," two restaurants, a conference center and a rooftop bar, according to the company's website.
Cal/OSHA, the state's workplace safety regulator, is investigating the circumstances leading up to the blaze and is focusing on Build Group subsidiary Pacific Structures, to which the project permit was issued, and subcontractor Emerald Steel, said Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Kathleen Hennessy.
Build Group was issued a second $1,000 citation for removing the sprinkler system at a construction site at 218 Buchanan St., Talmadge said. The company had been instructed to leave sprinklers at both sites intact, she said.
In a statement, company spokesman Charlie Goodyear said Build Group was appealing the citations because it believed it followed Fire Department instructions and that it "never received a directive instructing the company to not remove fire sprinklers."
The fire began in an area that was not equipped with a sprinkler system, Goodyear said, adding, "Build Group was in continuous contact with the Fire Department from the beginning of the project and believed it was in compliance with all customary Fire Department regulations for a retrofit of this type."
Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @henryklee

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fire officials blast report on residential alarms, sprinklers


Worry state will roll back requirements

By Laura Crimaldi


WELLESLEY — Fire officials from across Massachusetts descended Tuesday on a meeting of a board that administers the state building code to assail a proposed policy document that they see as an effort to roll back requirements for fire alarm and sprinkler systems in some residential buildings.
About 40 fire officials attended a meeting of the Board of Building Regulations and Standards at the National Guard Armory to oppose the draft white paper, which examines the cost and effectiveness of fire alarm and sprinkler systems in residential buildings with three to six units.
“The fire service believes this is the opening to look at code change proposals that may not have sprinklers or alarms,” state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said in an interview.
Opponents said the paper singled out fire alarms and sprinklers as contributors to the high cost of housing in Massachusetts without providing evidence to support that conclusion or taking into account the ability of sprinklers to save lives.
“This paper is seriously flawed,” Coan said during his remarks to the board. “Why roll back a proven fire safety protection?”
He said there have been more than 30,000 fires in three- to six-family apartment buildings in Massachusetts between 2001 and 2013, causing about $320 million in property loss and resulting in 1,300 firefighter injuries, 700 civilian injuries, one firefighter death, and 108 civilian deaths.
The document was drafted to fulfill the board’s legal obligation to conduct ongoing examinations of the state building code's impact on construction costs as well as the effectiveness of the code in the areas of health, safety, energy conservation, and security.
The white paper says Massachusetts has more fire protection requirements than any other New England state and mandated sprinklers for many residential and commercial buildings in 1997 before national building codes did.
The document said it costs about $27,450 to install a sprinkler and fire alarm system throughout a three-unit residential building.
Board member Alexander MacLeod said those costs need to be addressed.
“I know sprinklers can save lives,” he said, “but I’d like to know what the cost is.”
The paper’s recommendations do not explicitly call for changes to requirements for sprinklers and fire alarms, but the specter of such a proposal dominated the conversation.
“This paper represents, in the opinion of firefighters and fire officers and fire chiefs, a shift in public policy,” said Acushnet Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher, a board member .
Fire officials also questioned whether the paper applies to existing units or new ones because the document uses the term “new construction” in one of its recommendations.
Board member Robert Anderson said the paper pertains to existing residences.
“This is only looking at renovated three- to six-family homes — whether or not there is another way to achieve life safety in those units without having to install sprinkler systems,” he said.
The document concludes the state needs more affordable housing and a building code with “fewer and clear” requirements would help lower costs.
It recommends the board propose new codes that would provide more affordable options for building multifamily homes, but those codes must offer safety features that are “enhanced or equivalent” to what the current code provides.
The Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition, which opposes the paper, cited a Back Bay fire in March that killed two Boston firefighters and an apartment building blaze in Lowell that killed seven people in July. Neither building was equipped with sprinklers because they were both built before sprinkler requirements were implemented, the coalition said in a statement.
During a tense exchange, the building code board’s chairman, Brian Gale, asked board member Gallagher if it was possible the owner of the Lowell building didn’t make improvements to the residence because of sprinkler costs.
“I believe it is possible,” said Gale, answering his own question. “If that’s the case, is it possible that that building never got any renovation or any work done on it because of the sprinkler regulation?”
He went on to ask whether the building owner would have made other life-saving safety improvements to the building if he didn’t have to bear the cost of installing sprinklers.
“I think that there’s a possibility here that the code may be costing people lives the way it’s written,” Gale said.
The comment drew jeers from fire officials, including one who yelled, “Shameless!”
The board decided to send the document out for edits from the its committees on fire prevention and fire protection and existing building codes, as well as the state Department of Housing and Community Development and Executive Office of Administration and Finance.
Coan, the state fire marshal, said he was pleased with the board’s decision to seek input from agencies and boards that specialize in housing, economics, and public safety.
“You absolutely do not reduce or eliminate fire protection in these buildings, whether they be existing buildings or new buildings,” he said.
Laura Crimaldi can be reached at