homepage logo

Focus on sprinklers: Cape Fire Department to host seminar

By Staff | Nov 26, 2011

A daylong seminar about residential sprinkler systems will take place Tuesday in Cape Coral for fire and construction industry professionals.

The Cape Fire Department and Lee County Fire Marshals Association will host the Fire Team USA presentation from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 29, in council chambers at City Hall. Fire marshals and fire prevention officials statewide are expected to attend.

“It’s about residential fire sprinklers in new homes,” Cape Fire Marshal Alan Carter said, adding that experts have been talking about it for a long time.

“It’s currently not in the (city’s building) code,” he said. “However, that technology is available.”

The seminar aims to get industry experts and elected officials talking.

“For all the people that can make a change to get into one room and talk about it,” Carter said.

At the end of the seminar, a live side-by-side sprinkler demonstration will take place at 4 p.m. in the City Hall parking lot. The demonstration is open to the general public; the daylong event, however, will not be open to the public.

The live demonstration is sponsored by the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association and the Florida Chapter of the American Fire Sprinkler Association.

“Fire sprinklers are proven to save lives,” Carter said, adding that residential systems are different from commercial systems.

“These sprinklers are fast-response sprinklers,” he said.

A fire sprinkler combined with a smoke alarm increases one’s chance of surviving a fire by 82 percent, as compared to not using the devices.

While commercial sprinklers must be inspected and tested annually by a professional, residential ones can be checked and tested by a homeowner.

State statutes currently allow for a 5 percent to 15 percent discount on insurance rates annually – percents vary by carrier – on residences that have a fire sprinkler system, according to Carter.

He noted that if Cape homeowners install an impact window or door, there is some type of credit of rebate available to them. The city currently offers no such incentive when homeowners install a residential fire sprinkler system.

“How can we offer some incentives to have the homeowner install fire sprinklers?” Carter asked.

“As a fire marshal, I look at it as a community risk reduction,” he said.

There are several groups that can benefit from a residential fire sprinkler system. Carter explained that any child under 10 may not be able to get out of a home safely, while sprinklers provide an extra 10 minutes to escape.

That also applies to those with a physical disability and older residents.

“You may not move as fast as when you were in your 20s and 30s,” he said.

Firefighters and fire departments also benefit in the form of safety.

“I’d much rather send a fire truck to a home with sprinklers,” Carter said.

He added that residential fire sprinkler systems are “greener” because they cut down on the amount of water used as compared to a fire truck, and cut down on air pollution that is a result of a fire because they respond quicker.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz brought the opportunity for the seminar to the city’s attention after he talked with Fire Team USA.

“I was looking for additional research information that I was working on,” he said, adding that the team coordinator offered to put on the presentation.

Chulakes-Leetz called residential sprinklers a “cost-neutral investment.”

“We just need to get on the bandwagon with things that are already being done out there, and the value of it is enormous to the city” he said.

Chulakes-Leetz estimated that one $3,000 system can save the city $1 million, the value of one engine company with three firefighters per year.

He added that sprinklers also can reduce fire damage by 85 percent.

“It’s not practical to put a fire house on every corner,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

Cape Coral City Hall is located at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.