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Granite Falls Fire District #17 conducts live fire sprinkler demo


May 7, 2012

The burn cell protected by a fire sprinkler had minimal damage.

"Sometimes people just need to see it to believe it," says Fire Chief Jim Haverfield.

On Saturday, April 7, Granite Falls Fire District #17 (GFFD #17) intentionally set ablaze two burn cells that were furnished identically. One was equipped with a fire sprinkler, the other was not. The purpose of setting these burn cells ablaze? To show the effectiveness of residential fire sprinklers and to educate the public on the dangers of home fires.

"There's nothing like the heat and smoke of a real fire to help adults and children understand just how fast a home fire is," says Haverfield. "With our side-by-side comparison, we can show both the danger of fire and the value of having a fire sprinkler system installed."

On average, a fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. “Our unprotected burn cell reached flashover in less than two minutes; flashover is not a survivable event. The protected burn cell’s fire sprinkler extinguished flames within 30 seconds,” states Haverfield.

Here are some other facts about home fire sprinkler systems:

• Fire sprinklers are supplied by household water – usually off the water main. Just like ordinary plumbing, sprinkler system piping is hidden behind walls and ceilings.

• Sprinklers are activated only by the high temperature of a fire – typically between 135˚-165˚F.

• Burnt toast or other smoke cannot set off a sprinkler; neither can a smoke alarm that activates.

• Sprinklers are designed to flow between 10-25 gallons of water per minute. That’s about 10-15 times less water flow than fire department hoses, and under far less pressure.

• By operating while a fire is still small, a sprinkler controls or extinguishes a fire, slowing the spread of poisonous smoke and deadly heat.

• That fast and effective action gives family members more time to get out safely, saving lives.

The burn cell without a fire sprinkler was destroyed.

• And, the sprinkler confines the fire damage so that surrounding rooms are protected, saving valuables.

GFFD #17 also stressed the importance of having working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms alert you to a fire so that you are able to get out of the home quickly. GFFD #17 has smoke alarms available for those that may need them.

GFFD #17 would like to thank the Granite Falls IGA for offering up their parking lot for the event and Burns Fire Protection Systems, LLC for installing the fire sprinkler system in the protected cell.

Free information is available about home fire sprinklers from HFSC’s Web site. Visit to learn more about this life-saving technology and to see video clips and animations that answer common questions.


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