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“Sometimes people just need to see it to believe it,” said Les Woods, president of the S.C. Fire and Life Safety Education Association (SC FALSE).
That’s why SC FALSE will intentionally light two fires in front of a live audience at noon Saturday at Walmart, 805 S.C. 9 Bypass West, during the 17th annual Fire Safety Expo.
“There’s nothing like the heat and smoke of a real fire to help adults and children understand just how fast a home fire can spread,” Woods said. “With our side-by-side comparison, we can show both the danger of fire and the value of having a fire sprinkler system installed.
“This dramatic, yet safe, form of education has become increasingly popular with fire departments across the country. On Saturday, Oct. 15, Lancaster County residents will see firsthand why a typical home fire becomes deadly in less than three minutes.”
Two rooms will be built to simulate the living room of a typical home. Each room contains common furnishings, window treatments and a working smoke alarm. Only one of the room contains a fire sprinkler. The two rooms will be built on site at Walmart where the fires will be lit.
“By providing this unique live fire comparison, people not only gain an appreciation for the power and speed of a fire, they also realize what an incredible advantage it is to have a fire sprinkler system installed if fire breaks out,” Woods said.
Many people already understand how vital it is to have working smoke alarms to warn us of a fire. But home fire sprinklers are not as well known or understood. That’s one reason why the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) secured a federal Fire Prevention & Safety Grant to develop a kit to help fire departments and fire educators build and present side-by-side fire and sprinkler burn demonstrations in their communities.
Following an emergency call, it takes three to four minutes, on average for a fire department to arrive on the fire scene. By that time, a fire in a home without a sprinkler will have spread, causing smoke and heat damage and threatening the lives of residents. Local and national fire safety experts say widespread use of home fire sprinkler systems could save thousands of lives per year.
In a home with a sprinkler, the fire gets under control right away, limiting damage and protecting residents and first responders.
Here are some facts about home fire sprinkler systems:
u Fire sprinklers are supplied by household water – usually off the existing domestic water supply. Just like ordinary plumbing, sprinkler system piping is hidden behind walls and ceilings.
u The sprinklers are positioned along the piping and can be seen in ceilings or up high along certain walls.
u Sprinklers are activated only by the high temperature of a fire – typically between 135 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
u Burned toast or other smoke cannot set off a sprinkler; neither can an activated smoke alarm.
u Sprinklers are deigned to flow between 10 and 25 gallons of water per minute. That’s about 10-15 times less water flow than fire department hoses, and under far less pressure.
u By operating while a fire is still small, a sprinkler controls or extinguishes a fire, slowing the spread of poisonous smoke and deadly heat.
u That fast and effective action gives family members more time to get out safely, saving lives.
u And, the sprinkler confines the fire damage so that surrounding rooms are protected, saving valuables.
The S.C. Fire and Life Safety Education Association is proud to partner with the Home Sprinkler Coalition, the S.C. Sprinkler Coalition and the Lancaster Fire Department to bring this important educational opportunity to Lancaster County.
If you’re building a new home, renovating or thinking of buying, take a few minutes to learn how you can add this life-saving fire safety option.
I suggest that following the demonstration, parents should conduct an exit drill in the home (EDITH) with their families every three months. The drill teaches families to follow an escape plan, go to a meeting place, call 911 and stay out.
For details, you can call me at (803) 370-1988.
Diane Woods is with the S.C. Fire and Life Safety Education Association.