LFSA Educates Public About Fire Sprinklers
One of the hottest days of the year turned even hotter for spectators in a matter of seconds as the Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association; Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office; the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA); Louisiana State Firemen’s Association; and the Shreveport, Louisiana, Fire Department demonstrated the life-safety importance of fire sprinkler systems with a side-by-side burn demonstration on Friday, July 20, 2018.
The temperature in Shreveport that day was 105°F. You think that’s hot? How about 1,100°F? That was the temperature inside the burn pod at the flashover point. With a pod without a sprinkler system simulated to reflect a living room set up and the Shreveport Fire Department ready to extinguish the flames, trash in a waste basket was lit with a fireplace lighter to show how quickly a fire spreads, and how little time there is before the flames and smoke consume the space. The smoke alarm bellowed its warning, squealing beep. The first step to fire safety: an operable smoke alarm. One minute… the flames moved to the couch and the fire roared to life. As the flames engulfed the pod at 1 minute 45 seconds, flashover occurred. Already 30 feet away, the crowd stepped back due to the intense heat that was sweltering from the fire. At flashover, the heat level reached 1,100° F. At that point, the Shreveport Fire Department was given the signal to extinguish the flames. Smoke billowed from the pod as the water and fire met and fought for victory. The victors – Shreveport firemen – extinguished the fire to reveal the fragments of the pod’s remains. All items within the simulated living room were burnt, black, and crumbled at the touch. Walls were left with burn holes. What was a sofa, was just mere springs and parts of its frame. An overwhelming scene with just objects; we dare not think of what lives could’ve been lost.
Another duplicate pod with the addition of a fire sprinkler system is ignited (same process as other pod). After a few seconds, we heard the sound of the smoke alarm. A flame grew in the corner of the pod – deja vu. But wait, as the glass bulb in the sprinkler head burst, it began to extinguish the fire before it could engulf the space. In just 34 seconds, the fire was extinguished with minor damage to the interior of the pod. The damage is nothing compared to the possibility of losing a life. Sign me up for a fire sprinkler system! No brainer!
“We know that today’s fire environment is much different than it has been in previous decades. The most significant changes are the synthetic materials found in our homes now burn faster, burn hotter, and produce more toxic gasses than ever before,” comments James “Robby” Dawson, MBA, CFO, southeast regional director for NFPA. “In the 1980s we may have had 12 minutes or more to escape a home fire. Today, that timeframe is only about three minutes. Home fire sprinklers are a proven affordable and effective fire-safety tool that is a requirement in model building codes adopted around the world, and should be included in every new home built today.”
Dawson continues: “The National Fire Protection Association is proud to partner with these great organizations in Louisiana to educate communities. We know we can’t accomplish our mission without these types of relationships, and like we say – ‘It’s a big world. Let’s protect it together.’ It’s these kind of events where we can collectively demonstrate the importance of these types of events and partnerships.”
The sprinkler-protected side’s (left photo) flames were quickly extinguished while the non-sprinklered protected side reached flashover and resulted in total loss.
Members of the fire protection industry know that residential fire sprinkler systems can save property, homes, and most of all lives. Building public awareness about home fire safety and these life- and property-saving systems can also lead to potential new clients and business.
“We as an industry need to continue to educate the public of the residential life-saving systems there are available today,” states LFSA President and AFSA At-Large Director Linda Biernacki, president of Fire Tech Systems. “I have always been proud of the great work the fire sprinkler and fire alarm industries have done to save lives and property. I was especially proud when I had dozens of bystanders come up to me to talk about fire sprinklers and how surprised they were of how quick the fire sprinkler extinguished the fire.”
“I could not be more proud of our Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association and the Louisiana fire service for coming together and demonstrating the value of saving lives through the installation of residential fire sprinklers,” says Louisiana State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning, Jr. “Our partnership together will be to educate homeowners and cultivate their desire to install this premier fire protection enhancement to protect their families.”
“It was an honor for the Louisiana State Fireman’s Association to partner with these organizations to produce an opportunity for the public to see what we already know and that is sprinklers save lives and property,” comments Charlie Metcalf president, Louisiana State Fireman’s Association. “It is imperative that we as a state provide initiatives so that sprinklers become more common throughout Louisiana.”
The Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association thanks all of the sponsors who made the burn possible: ACT Pipe & Supply; Ameripipe Supply; State Fire Marshal Chief Butch Browning; Building Reports; Core & Main; Cybertronic Coatings; Ferguson Fire & Fabrication; Fire Fighters Association; Fire Sprinkler Services; Fire Tech Systems, Inc.; Globe Fire Sprinkler Corporation; Jefferson Sprinkler; LFSA Board Members; LFSA NextGen – Jeremie Ott; Merit Sprinkler Company; Eddy Meyers; NFPA – Robby Dawson; The Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Company; S&S Sprinkler Company; South Carolina State Fire Fighters Association – Jeff Allen and Lee Levesque; United Piping, Inc.; Victaulic; and Viking Supply Net & Fabrication.
We are also grateful for Denham Springs Fire Department Chief Melvin Wheet and his volunteers and St. George Fire Department Chief Jerry Tarleton and his volunteers. To see a video of the side-by-side burn demonstration, visit https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=xJAS6CH9S8A&t=7s. For more information on LFSA, its events, and how can to have these life-saving systems installed in homes, visit lafiresprinkler.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ellen Ballard is executive assistant at Fire Tech Systems, Inc., Shreveport, Louisiana, and is actively involved with LFSA.