Fire officials present sizzling display of sprinklers' worth
Devices in homes can save property, lives, Dunaway says
Fire officials conduct a live-burn demonstration in the parking lot of the Heathman Lodge Thursday to show the effectiveness of fire sprinklers. The part of the model fitted with sprinklers extinguished flames within 90 seconds. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)Buy this photo
Spectators watch a live-burn demonstration Thursday that was organized by fire officials to show how fire sprinklers work. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)Buy this photo
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.