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Sprinkler systems help stop 81 fires in 2010

Mon, Aug 22nd, 2011
Posted in State of Minnesota


Numbers Illustrate How Sprinklers Save Lives and Property

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) today announced that 81 building fires were put out by automatic sprinkler systems in 2010. This is a slight increase from 78 building fires in 2009.

Data from the SFM shows most residential buildings involved were apartment buildings. Commercial buildings include warehouse, manufacturing, educational, entertainment, restaurants, funeral and healthcare facilities.

State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl says the value of a sprinkler system is both economic and personal. "The benefits of sprinklers, whether they're built into the facility or retro-fitted, become very clear when they knock down a potentially devastating fire," Rosendahl said. "An automatic sprinkler system can save a building and most of its contents, reduce insurance costs, minimize business interruption, keep people in their homes and, most importantly, save lives."

Minnesota state fire code requires sprinkler systems in larger, newly constructed apartment buildings and hotels. "A large number of buildings saved by sprinklers in the last two years were apartment buildings," said Rosendahl. "That's significant. It means hundreds of families were kept in their homes and lives were saved."

The life-saving capacity of sprinkler systems is related to escape time. Research from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows the average safe-escape period in a building fire has dropped from 17 minutes in the mid-1970s to about three minutes today. The decline is attributed to faster-burning synthetic materials in modern buildings and furnishings. Rosendahl explained fire sprinklers activate in one to two minutes and can control a fire, extending escape time for occupants.

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