Columbia Fire Stations to Install Sprinkler Systems

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COLUMBIA - The three remaining city fire stations without automatic sprinkler systems will have those systems installed by August under a plan approved last month by the Columbia City Council. The stations to get the new sprinklers are stations 4, 5 and 6. The sprinklers will go in both living quarters and apparatus bays.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognized the vulnerability of the nation's older fire stations and assigned a high priority to fund fire sprinkler installations in the 2011 Fire Act.

The total cost of the sprinkler project is $135,000, and the funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 80 percent of the cost. The remaining 20 percent comes from a local fire apparatus equipment project.

"This is very important to us. Sprinkler systems not only save lives, they save property. So it's a good way to protect our property," said Brad Fraizer, Columbia fire marshal and public information officer.

After the installation, there will be an annual maintenance fee projected to be $800. Fraizer said there is some required testing on the systems.

Currently, all the city buildings have sprinklers. The new installations will be a model for future installations addressing residential fire sprinkler issues.

Fraizer talked about the sprinkler systems in Paquin Tower that helped prevent property damage since its installation in 2002. There have been three fires that activated the sprinklers before the firefighters arrived.

"Usually it protects our apartment. Pretty soon, that water was running out beyond that door, all the way down the hallway, but it goes down," said David Dollens, who has lived in Paquin Tower for 12 years. 

Based on what Dollens experienced with the sprinkler systems, he sees problems. "When alarm goes off, you can be cooking. And the alarm goes off, you not really have a fire, and the sprinkler can go off afterwards," Dollens said.