Fire Officials Urge Texans to Get Fire Sprinklers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fire officials urge North Texans to get fire sprinklers installed in their homes. (Published Friday, May 23, 2014)

    Justina Page knows first hand how devastating a fire can be.

    In 1999, she lost her Houston home and her 22-month-old son in one, and was badly burned in the process.

    Now, she says not a day goes by that she doesn't wish she'd had fire sprinklers.

    "After all the suffering, after all the grieving, and all of the things that we had to go through - losing every single thing we had - it was time to get to work and advocate for those who still have a chance," said Page.

    She's now joined forces with state and local fire officials to help them launch a new campaign to raise awareness about the need for fire sprinklers in homes.

    "No fire department can match an automatic sprinkler system," said State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy.

    Wednesday, the group was in Arlington to present at a building professionals conference at UT Arlington. They did a live fire demonstration, lighting fires in two identical rooms they built - one with a sprinkler system, the other without.

    In the room that had fire sprinklers, the fire was under control about 30 seconds after it started. The room had minimal damage.

    The room without fire sprinklers was fully engulfed within two minutes.

    "It's fully involved and the fire department has just now been notified [in that two minutes]," said Connealy. "They haven't even got en route. And we still have to deploy those hose lines."

    Connealy said he hopes demos like these stress the difference a sprinkler system can make and urges people that getting them installed in their homes is a no-brainer.

    "People in this day and age, there's no excuse for dying in a fire," said Connealy. "We have the technology to overcome it. We've had it for many years. We just need to make sure that people understand why sprinklers are important."

    Page hopes people get the message before it's too late.

    "Fire doesn't discriminate," said Page. "It could happen anytime, anywhere for any reason. And if we have a solution, I feel by all means we ought to use it."

    Connealy recently retrofitted his own home with a sprinkler system for about $4.50 per square foot. He says if you get one installed when your home is being built, it can cost less than $2.00 per square foot.