Controlled burn to show value of sprinklers
AirCare has carried out what it claims is the first controlled fire burn of its type in Bermuda.
The controlled burn, held to demonstrate the efficacy of having a properly installed and maintained sprinkler-based fire suppression system, was carried out with the assistance of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service.
In a statement, the company said the time between a fire igniting and the arrival of the fire service is approximately 12 minutes at a minimum. During those 12 minutes, the company said, fire can spread quickly and cause costly damage as well as endanger the lives of anyone who may be in a residential or commercial building.
The most proven system for suppressing fires and saving lives, the company said, is a sprinkler system.
Brendan Stones, general manager, AirCare, said: “The average response time in Bermuda for the fire service is ten minutes from time of an emergency call. However, that doesn’t represent the time from ignition, which is always the lost time in a fire situation — it can take anywhere from two minutes to ten minutes for someone to become aware of the fire and call the fire services, which is a crucial timeframe.
“Installing a sprinkler system not only saves lives but also has many other advantages including creating a safer environment for fire service personnel when they arrive at the scene of a fire and protecting property.”
The company said that the National Fire Protection Association in the US has carried out extensive research on sprinkler systems and determined that in more than 80 per cent of fires, one sprinkler head is sufficient to control a fire.
Another advantage, the company said, is that sprinkler heads operate by heat, so the entire building doesn’t get wet — sprinklers will only be activated in a targeted and controlled manner where fire is present thereby minimising damage.
Mr Stones said: “The purpose of our demonstration was to establish how much safer it is for everyone when a fire protection system is installed and maintained properly.
“It offers a level of safety you cannot otherwise get. When a sprinkler head is triggered by heat from a fire, the sprinkler will automatically activate and control the fire providing a safer environment to evacuate and will give Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service a safer atmosphere to respond and extinguish what may remain of a fire.”
During the recent controlled burn, once the sprinkler system had been activated, the fire stopped spreading and within four minutes was extinguished, the company said.
Mr Stones added: “During the controlled burn, once the sprinkler system was activated the smoke from the fire was a light white, which means that it’s predominantly steam and not smoke. Smoke is what kills, more so than fire. On the non-sprinkler burn, five minutes into the burn, the smoke was deep black. This is very dangerous and something the sprinkler system effectively mitigates. One thing to remember is that the only people who should ever shut a sprinkler system off is the fire and rescue service. Nobody else should ever touch it.”
AirCare said it has partnered with Canadian-based Troy Life & Fire Safety Ltd and has access to every kind of system a business or home may require.
For people concerned about water damage to property, the company said, AirCare also offers a variety of other suppression systems such as the Victaulic Vortex suppression system, which uses a small volume of microscopic water droplets and nitrogen to suppress the fire without causing equipment damage or risk to life.
Mr Stones said: “AirCare recently purchased a nitrogen generation system to refill these systems quickly in case of an accidental discharge to minimise downtime and risk. Suppression systems can also be constructed of corrosion resistant CPVC pipe instead of traditional steel which is prone to rusting in Bermuda’s salt air.”
For more information about fire suppression systems visit www.aircare.bm