by Michael Garofalo, Sinclair Broadcast Group, News4SA.com
San Antonio has seen its share of deadly fires, including one on Green Street last year. The state fire marshal says about 165 Texans die each year in fires, on average. The majority of those are in single family homes.
“Overwhelmingly, those deaths are preventable,” says Fire Marshal Chris Connealy. Preventable, he says, with the help of smoke alarms and sprinklers.
“The thing about sprinklers, it’s like having a firefighter up in the ceiling ready to provide water to extinguish the fire,” adds Connealy.
San Antonio’s own Southwest Research Institute invited us to see what happens when a baby’s nursery catches fire; first with a sprinkler system, then without.
In the first test, the sprinklers go off about two minutes into the fire.
In the second test, the room becomes an inferno in less than two minutes and burning drapery falls into the crib.
And remember, it takes an average of six minutes for firefighters to get to a scene and about 10 minutes before hoses are connected and water is flowing.
“Fire sprinklers work,” says Connealy. “They have a long history and they are consistent.”
The proof can be found in Prince Georges County, Maryland, where sprinklers have been mandated in new homes for 15 years. Since then, not one person has died in a fire where sprinklers were present.
In Texas, sprinklers became law in 2003 for multi-family dwellings, commercial warehouses, office buildings and high rises.
The cost to add fire sprinklers in new construction varies and it costs more to retro-fit an existing home. But the San Antonio Fire Department can’t say enough good things about them.
“Anyone considering renovating their home with a sprinkler system, we strongly encourage it,” says SAFD spokesperson Joe Arrington.
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