When fire strikes, every second counts. While a fire sprinkler system is the holy grail – no one has died in North America as a result of an accidental fire when fire sprinklers have been operational – there’s more we can do to help our customers stay safe.
Every homeowner needs an escape plan to ensure everyone can move to safety quickly, especially those without a fire sprinkler system. We can encourage them to make a plan and point them to the right resources. An escape plan is critical because, without a sprinkler system, a fire can reach the deadly “flashover” stage in as few as three minutes – well before the fire crews can arrive.No one survives flashover.
Fire Spreads More Quickly in Today’s Homes
Overall, today’s homes offer important fire safety advantages. For instance, electrical wiring is much safer than in the past with glass fuses replaced by breakers and fire-prone aluminum wiring replaced by copper.
But if a fire starts, the materials in today’s homes burn hotter and much more quickly than in the past. For instance, cushions used to be made of natural materials such as cotton or even horse hair that burned slowly. By comparison, today’s synthetic materials burn like rocket fuel. In addition, most furniture today is made with laminates and particle board that contain glues that burn rapidly.
For many decades up until the 2000s, it was generally assumed it would take 15 minutes for a fire to turn deadly. This belief was the basis for fire department response plans and even building and fire codes across North America.
But live-burn tests conducted in 2005 by the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute overturned those assumptions. The tests compared the combustion rate of a legacy room, furnished with solid-wood furniture, with a modern room with more contemporary furniture. The study found that the modern room reach flashover in just three minutes and 40 secondswhile the legacy room reached the deadly stage at 29 minutes.
The study also found that building materials in contemporary structures created safety risks.For instance, engineered joists are made with flammable glues and wood fibers. This increases the threat of catastrophic failures, such as collapsing floors and roofs, due to very fast and extremely hot fires, which puts first responders at higher risk.
Developing A Fire Safety Plan
Faced with the reduction in the time to reach safety, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and local fire departments across North America began focusing on home escape plans to increase the chances of survival. NFPA offers a variety of tools for developing a home fire escape plan.Key elements include:
Make a map showing all doors and windows.
Discuss the plan with everyone in your home.
Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible.
Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
Establish an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home, such as a tree, light pole or mailbox.
Practice the home fire drill at night and during the day, twice a year.
Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
Sprinklers Stop Fires Before They Spread
Fire sprinkler systems are the ultimate solution, because they suppress a fire well before it can turn deadly. As shown in this video from the Home Fire Sprinkler Association, fire sprinklers control a blaze by the time fire crews arrive. Without sprinklers, the home may be completely destroyed.
BlazeMaster Fire Protection systems have been at the forefront of residential fire sprinkler systemsfor many years and continue to advance the dependability, affordability and performance of residential fire sprinklers for everyone’s safety.
With or without a fire sprinkler system, a fire is a stressful situation, and careful planning and practice can ensure everyone knows what to do.