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Sprinkler System Saves Lives, Property

Event date: Monday, July 14, 2014, from 11:18 AM to 11:18 AM

Fire Department Hot Topic

Media Contacts: Jay Ducote, firepio@scottsdaleaz.gov

At approximately 3 am on July 11, units from the Scottsdale and Phoenix fire departments and Scottsdale Police responded to a reported working apartment building fire at the Scottsdale Mission Apartment/Condo complex, located at 11260 N. 92nd Street.

A full structural fire assignment was dispatched, with the first Scottsdale Fire unit on the scene in less than 4 minutes. Upon arrival the emergency crews found an 80-year-old resident with smoke inhalation, along with smoke and fire damage to a first floor living unit. This particular building was a two story, multi-family occupancy that had 8 residential living units.

Conditions in the blaze to be considered were:

  • Higher than normal fuel load in the unit of fire origin (hoarding-like conditions)
  • Lightweight wood construction used for these buildings
  • The late night/early morning time of the event – which is when the majority of fatal fires occur
  • Normal fire ground activities of completely extinguishing the fire, ventilating the building, conducting salvage operations, checking other units for occupants and possible fire extension and overhauling the fire area.

This building was equipped with an automatic sprinkler system, which had three (3) quick response sprinkler heads activate in the area of origin. These life saving devices contained and extinguished much of the fire until fire units could arrive and complete the job. As a result, there was an estimated $15,000 total fire loss to the contents and structural components of this $1,000,000+ building. Additionally, there were no other firefighter or civilian injuries, and the other residents of this structure were allowed to return to their residential living units once fire ground operations were curtailed.

“The primary cause of the fire appears to be improper use and disposal of smoking materials,” says Scottsdale Fire Marshal Jim Ford. “If there had not been a residential sprinkler system in the building, this mostly likely would have been a fire death rather than a patient suffering from smoke inhalation, in addition to multiple residents displaced.”

In 1985, Scottsdale’s City Council adopted one of the country’s most comprehensive fire codes that included sprinkler ordinance requirements for all newly constructed buildings.

“This bold, progressive action has saved numerous lives and millions of dollars’ worth of buildings and property since.” Ford says. “Incidents like this one continue to show the effectiveness of an overall community risk reduction strategy that includes community education, built-in fire protection measures along with highly competent and well trained first responders.”

For more information about residential sprinklers and Scottsdale’s ordinance, visit www.scottsdaleaz.gov/fire/residentialsprinkler.

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