Demonstration sends fiery message about home sprinkler effectiveness

May 18, 2024

LAKEVILLE — A portion of a home caught fire Saturday morning May 18 right behind the Lakeville Fire Station. 

But the blaze was controlled by the Lakeville Fire Department to show the effectiveness of a home sprinkler system.

The live side-by-side demonstration showed in real time the difference fire sprinklers can make in a home fire.

For the demonstration, the department built two 8' x 8' foot living room mock-ups. One room was equipped with a fire sprinkler and the other was not.

The room not equipped with the fire sprinkler reached flashover in, when everything in an area simultaneously ignites, in only a few minutes. This destroyed the room and created conditions that that would not be survivable.

In contrast, the sprinkler in the second room went off 34 seconds after the fire started. This completely extinguished the blaze.

“The aftermath is clear,’’ Lakeville Fire Lt. Ryan Silvia said. “One room was destroyed while the other just needs to be dried out.’’

More significantly, the differences could save lives, Silvia said.

“The occupants of the home would have had ample time to escape with sprinkler protection and would not have experienced the deadly effects of heat and toxic smoke,’’ he said.

Members of the Lakeville Fire Department Home have been strong advocates for installing fire sprinklers.

The equipment is “economical and reliable and on average adds only about 1% to the cost of a new home,’’ Silvia said. “They can be used with any domestic water supply, even in homes with well water, and are virtually maintenance-free.’’

The Lakeville Fire Department has been designated a "Built for Life" Fire Department by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition because of their advocacy efforts. The department received a $750 grant to support this event.

The simulation was attended by representatives from the National Fire Sprinkler Association and was the closing chapter of a week-long public education campaign for Home Fire Sprinkler Week.

This project was also assisted by the Mullein Hill Christian Academy eighth grade science class, which has  been learning from the department about fire science and fire safety for the past several months.

School Principal Barbara Priestly attended the event, which was live-streamed on the department’s Facebook page. The program was coordinated by Deputy Fire Chief Pam Garant and Silvia.