From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
VESTAVIA HILLS — The Alabama Fire College demonstrated the importance of residential sprinkler systems during the monthly meeting of the Alabama Association of Fire Chiefs.
One side of the mobile trailer used in the demonstration was equipped with a system and the other side was not. Both rooms had the same furniture and curtains. The sprinkler system was activated within seconds of the room catching fire. However, the side without the sprinkler system went to flash-over with smoke, heat and flames extending quickly.
Matt Russell, the Executive Director of the Alabama Fire College, said the reason for the demonstration was to raise awareness of the need for sprinkler systems in homes.
“It’s like having a firefighter in every room of your house,” said Russell.
Russell said Alabama passed legislation in 2017 to allow plumbers to install residential sprinkler systems in homes. Professionals can use the existing plumbing system within a home to install sprinklers. Plumbers must attend a class to get certification for sprinkler system installation.
Residential sprinkler systems range from 1% – 2% of the cost of a home. They react to heat, not smoke, so your system will not be activated if you burn food. Furthermore, only sprinkler heads that sense heat will be activated.
“Typically, sprinkler systems suppress the average fire with 300 gallons of water. If the fire department deploys an attack line, they put out about 3,000 gallons of water,” said Russell.
“The question is not really the cost of the sprinkler system; the question is, ‘What is the cost of not having a sprinkler system?’” said Russell.
Russell said the cost is high in Alabama. In fact, there were 70 fire fatalities reported in 2018. He said it’s important for every family to have a fire plan.
“The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week was, ‘Not every hero wears a cape, plan and practice your escape,’” Russell said.
There are five things Russell recommends to prevent the devastating effects of fires:
- Plan your escape with your family before the fire occurs.
- Test your smoke alarms.
- Choose an outside meeting place.
- Make a regular reminder to your family.
- Practice your fire escape plan.
Below is video of the sprinkler system demonstration. Center Point Fire District Chief Gene Coleman was at the demonstration, along with Trussville Fire and Rescue Chief Tim Shotts.