Columbia Fire Department Conducts Fire Demonstration

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Fire Department, Columbia Area Career Center, and State Farm demonstrated Friday the difference smoke alarms and fire sprinkler systems in houses can have in the case of a fire. It was thre first demonstration of its kind in Columbia.

The groups constructed two side-by-side fire demonstrations. Both of the demonstrations had smoke alarms, but only one had a fire sprinkler system installed.

Columbia Fire Department Captain John Metz said the sprinkler system makes a big difference.

"There is a certain segment of the population that smoke alarms can't help...infants, children, people with disabilities, someone that has trouble being awakened by a smoke alarm. Fire sprinklers allow people that early warning and that early containment or extinguishing of the fire, allowing them to get out safer," Metz said.

Metz said there is only a small percentage of Columbia residents who have fire sprinkler systems installed in their homes. He said it's probably because it's expensive to have the sprinklers installed and there are some common myths about the systems.

"Hollywood has given us the impression that if one sprinkler head goes off, they all go off and that's not the case. People are concerned with water damage and I can tell you that the water that is discharged from a fire sprinkler is a tenth of what is discharged through fire hoses," Metz said.

State Farm Spokesperson Jim Camoriano said that while smoke alarms are great, the combination with sprinkler systems is even better.

"What seat belts and air bags are to cars, is what the smoke detectors and a home fire sprinkler system is to your house," Camoriano said. "When you have a fire without that sprinkler system in, how much heat, how much smoke, and what that looks like versus with a sprinkler system is pretty dramatic."

A grant from various organizations like the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition helped build the trailer used for the demonstration. The Columbia Fire Department plans to use the reusable trailer at least four times a year to educate citizens around Columbia.

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