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Red Deer Polytechnic hosts mock dorm room burn

Demo showcased effectiveness of fire sprinkler systems
Red Deer Emergency Services firefighters put out a controlled burn of a replica dorm room at Red Deer Polytechnic on Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Fire sprinkler systems save lives.

That was the message as Red Deer Polytechnic, in conjunction with Red Deer Emergency Services, hosted a controlled side-by-side burn of two replica dorm rooms Friday afternoon.

During the demonstration, small fires were started in two eight-by-eight-foot dorm rooms. Only one of the rooms was equipped with a sprinkler system, which was installed by RDP’s second- and third-year Sprinkler Systems Installer apprentices. The room without a sprinkler was engulfed in flames within minutes.

The goal of the demonstration was to showcase the importance of fire safety and the competencies of RDP’s Sprinkler Systems Installer apprentices.

“Eighty-nine per cent of the time when a building has sprinklers the fire is kept at the origin,” said Chris McCloskey, RDP Sprinkler Systems Installer instructor.

“This side-by-side burn demonstrated the effectiveness that properly installed sprinkler systems by skilled trades workers have on containing and controlling fire to buy time for evacuating and allowing fire personnel to extinguish a fire.”

Jo-Ann Gauthier, Canadian Automatics Sprinkler Association western regional manager and national manager of field operations, said the side-by-side burn demo educates the public.

“This is an education piece on showing the public how important sprinklers are and how little time you have to get out of your home when the fire starts,” said Gauthier.

“Generally a fire will start in the wee hours of the morning. You have about two or two and a half minutes to round everyone up and get out – it doesn’t give you a whole lot of time.”

The demonstration came just a couple of days before Nation Fire Prevention Week, which begins Sunday. The theme of this year’s week is “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”

“It’s important, especially if you have children, to have a plan for how to get out of the house quickly,” said Shane Dussault, RDES assistant fire marshal.

“Nowadays a fire can only need a couple of minutes before it’s no longer survivable in a home. A sprinkler system does drastically improve that. It’s also important people check their smoke alarms.”

This is the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week.

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Chris McCloskey, Red Deer Polytechnic sprinkler systems installer instructor, speaks as Red Deer Emergency Services firefighters put out a controlled burn of a replica dorm room on Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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