Fire Prevention Saves Lives
Silent Hero Saves The Day!
By Mike Barnes, Chief of Prevention in Edmond, Oklahoma
On Sunday, May 19, a painter made the decision that he would finish some cabinets in a small restroom in a mercantile. He took his airless sprayer with 50 feet of hose, one gallon of flammable finish into the one-toilet/one-sink restroom. Using the restroom fan, he sprayed several cabinet doors and was in the process of spraying the cabinet when the ignition of the vapors turned the room into an inferno. The ceiling tiles were blown down in the room, just outside the room and for approximately 12 tiles into the suite.
During the investigation it was noted that one fire sprinkler had activated and extinguished the fire before fire crews arrived. The painter was transported to the local burn center with serious burns. When he was interviewed at the hospital, he stated that he was spraying and something just exploded and that the “room was on fire, I was on fire.” He stated that he could not get out of the room and the fire sprinkler came on and put the fire out and he was able to get out. When I asked him if the fire sprinkler saved his life he stated, “Yes they put out the fire, they put me out.”
Speaking to the owner of the mercantile, she stated that the store’s grand opening was scheduled for that Monday, May 20. She stated that she had just stocked the store with $100,000 of paper products. None of the merchandise was damaged since the fire was contained to the restroom area only.
Mark Baumann, the business owner was educated by our office and the building department about the advantages of fire sprinklers during the renovations of the old building. Mr. Baumann made the decision to install a voluntary NFPA 13 fire sprinkler system, after he made an educated business decision using insurance savings, construction cost and wider occupancy opportunities as his guide. When asked about the fire sprinkler discharge, Mr. Baumann stated he is very happy he made the investment and thanked us for all the education and help we provided him along the way.
Chalk up another save for the “Silent Hero!”
In 2008, Baltimore City (Maryland) Fire Department Lieutenant Derrick Ready endeavored to reduce the number of intentional school fires by 50 percent in just five years. Employing classic community risk reduction strategies, Ready became a presence at local schools, walking the halls and talking to students. In March 2013, Lieutenant Ready received the Hometown Hero Award for helping to reduce school fires by 86.7 percent. Read the story.
Most fire protection inspections are uneventful. It’s important work, yet the rewards for code compliance are rarely demonstrated in the dramatic fashion that the South Kitsap Fire & Rescue experienced in 2013. Lieutenant Charles Hislop went on a routine grocery store inspection and noticed some combustible items too close to a water heater. As he removed them and made a mental note to advise the manager of this dangerous practice, he discovered that some packaging was actually in the process of burning as a result of contact with the water heater. This inspection not only stopped a fire, it proved to be a meaningful learning experience for the store employees. Says Fire Prevention Manager Greg Rogers, this fire “really does prove business inspections do make a difference. Sometimes we know it and sometimes we do not.”