#101 – The Importance of Fire Protection – Why We Do What We Do

by Bruce Agan, USAutomatic Fire and Security

Bruce Agan, a fire sprinkler contractor in Carmel, Indiana, often recruits young hires from high schools and technical colleges.  The following is a story he tells to make known the importance of the fire protection industry….  It is a story that is pertinent to many of us when we make the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home facility.  We want our loved one to be safe from unforeseen harm.  Here is Bruce’s story:

Residential Nursing Home BuildingThere comes a point in time in a person’s life where they need to make the tough decision to put a loved one in a nursing home.  We want to be thorough in seeing what our options are and in finding the place we feel will provide the best care.  One way to do your due diligence is to visit these nursing homes at night.  You will find there are fewer staff on site at 3 am, and it is a good idea to see what it is like in the middle of the night.

Imagine you pull into a nursing home at 3 am.  You are buzzed in and tell the person that you are there to see what the facility is like at night, as you are trying to find the right nursing home placement for your mother. You ask if you can look around and maybe peek in a couple of rooms to get a feel for the place. There are several corridors, A thru D, and the employee takes you to visit corridor D.  While you are looking around the fire alarm begins to sound– indicating there is a fire somewhere in the facility.  In this scenario, there are not many staff on duty and the facility does not have a sprinkler system.

Lives will be lost

The fire happens to be in corridor A’s laundry room.  The staff moves into action and they begin to get residents to safety.  The fire department has been notified via the alarm system.  However, keep in mind that there are many residents and not many staff this time of night.  It also takes the fire department, on average, five to fifteen minutes to get to the call.  Furthermore, with certain conditions, fire can double in size every thirty seconds.  So, the staff is having to determine which people to save because the fire is growing and spreading, and the fire department is still rolling to the scene.  Lives will be lost.

The importance of working fire sprinkler systems

Now rewind the story to the fire alarm sounding off at 3 am in corridor A.  This time there is a working sprinkler system installed in the nursing home facility.  As the heat from the fire reaches the sprinkler head(s), the sprinkler system activates and begins to douse the fire.  The fire department has received the alert and has been dispatched to the scene.  The staff is moving residents to safety.  A much different outcome—all lives are saved and the fire is contained and put out.  This is the ending to the story that we want.   Our purpose in sharing this story is to inform people about the huge importance of having working sprinkler systems installed in facilities for fire protection.  Share the story—it can save lives!

Additional Information

NFPA 13R is the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies

NFPA 25 is the Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems