Sprinklers save lives

Oct. 13, 2009 – My story isn’t that different from most victims who’ve had a fire in their home, but here it is in my own words…

On Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009, my husband and I were at home while two workers put the last coat of sealant on our stained concrete floor in the living room. We did not know this but the sealant was combustible. At 2:00 p.m., it caught fire. It ignited because the power and gas were not shut-off in the living room or the house.

In less than one second, a flash fire erupted and streaked across the entire floor. The room was engulfed in flames. There were shouts and screams, and in less than 10 seconds, the fire detector sounded its alarm.

The sprinklers in the living room and nearby hall started, and put out the blaze almost immediately. The room had burned so hot and fast that the frames to the patio doors are inoperable. The walls, ceiling, and drapes were badly scorched, but not burned because of the sprinklers. The damage to the house from the fire was very minimal.

Smoke damage was the worst part as black smoke had rolled all throughout the house. The fire ignited the protective plastic on the walls that the workers had put up to contain smells and deadly gases in the living room. The water damage from the sprinklers was unfortunate, but easily repaired.

It took just four days to dry out the walls and carpet. The soot that blew through the AC ducts was far more extensive.

We will need to repaint every wall, rewash every piece of clothing, and wipe down the interior and exterior of every cabinet. All of the furniture, drapes, and blinds are filthy from soot, which has taken many weeks to repair.

My heart goes out to anyone who has survived a fire. It’s terrifying, it’s fast, it’s surreal. And it could have been deadly. If there had been no sprinklers, we would have possibly lost lives and definitely lost our entire house. The fire would have gone on for several minutes, growing and growing in size and power. The fire department would have destroyed the rest of the home to put out the blaze with their axes and water hoses.

An eight-day stay in a hotel was chaotic but easy compared to losing everything. And we came very, very close to that.

For anyone who thinks that sprinklers in a residential home are an unnecessary luxury at best, at worst a costly annoyance, please consider this: My husband could have been trapped in that blaze; and the workers could have died as well. However, the sprinklers were just outside our living room.

Sprinklers work. Sprinklers save lives. Sprinklers save property. I am grateful they are in my home and will be in every home I ever purchase from now on.

I do not work for a fire protection company. I am an interior designer, wife, and mother of two.

Sincerely,
Anne M.
Las Vegas , NV
A customer of Western States Fire Protection Co.