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Fire sprinklers credited for saving property, lives


May 11, 2011

 

Media Contact: Tiffani Nichols, Scottsdale Fire Dept.            
                      (480) 312-1816 office or PIO pager (602) 229-9640 
 
In less than 72 hours, two homes have been protected and three lives saved in Scottsdale thanks to residential sprinkler systems.  
 
On Saturday evening, firefighters were dispatched to a home near Dynamite and Pima for a fire in a storage room under a staircase.  Oil-soaked rags had ignited, along with various pool chemicals and chlorine tablets, creating heavy smoke and intense flames. 
 
A single sprinkler head activated just outside the storage closet, partially containing the fire and keeping it small until emergency response units arrived.  Two residents safely evacuated without injury.  The home, valued at approximately $800,000, suffered an estimated $10,500 in damage to the structure and contents.     
 
The second fire occurred Tuesday morning in a home near Mountain View and 120th Street.  An 11-year-old boy who was home alone told fire officials he was alerted to a toaster oven on fire in the kitchen by the family room smoke detector.  He quickly called 911 and exited the home safely. 
 
A single sprinkler activated in the kitchen and extinguished the fire with minimal damage.  The home, valued at approximately $485,000, suffered an estimated $1,100 in damages.  
 
“Fires extinguished by residential sprinkler systems rarely make headline news” said Deputy Chief Jim Ford, who has championed residential fire sprinkler initiatives and legislation for more than 20 years in Scottsdale.  “However, these two recent fires are proof that these systems are extremely effective when properly installed, maintained, and used in conjunction with a smoke detector.”   
 
There are often misconceptions about residential sprinkler systems.  One of the most common is the fear that every sprinkler head will discharge water in the event of a fire.  The fact is that sprinkler heads are individually activated by heat and most residential fires are controlled with one sprinkler head.  In a 15-year study in Scottsdale, two or less sprinkler heads controlled more than 92 percent of the fires that occurred in protected properties.  
 
The City of Scottsdale is widely recognized as a leader in built-in automatic sprinkler systems. In 1985, the city passed an ordinance requiring every commercial and multi-family building to be outfitted with a complete fire sprinkler system. The ordinance also requires that single-family residences, built after Jan. 1, 1986, be fully outfitted with an approved fire sprinkler system. Sprinkler systems are also required in major remodeling projects.
 
Free home sprinkler inspections are offered by Scottsdale Fire Department.  To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call (480) 312-1855 or visit www.scottsdaleaz.gov/fire/residentialsprinkler.