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Re: Article from the Chicago Sun-Times

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Scott,

You are right that both sprinklers and firefighters use water but the firefighters can be much more discriminative.  If you have a large building and only a fire in one small location the firefighters will only use water on that one section and will stop when they think it is under control.  However, depending on the sprinkler system, they may all go off watering the whole floor or building and run until someone finds the valve and shuts them off.

I remember this on a personal level when I bought a new three story townhouse a few years ago.  It had sprinklers everywhere; in the attic, the garage, almost every closet, etc.  The buildings were actually connected fourplexes.  During the final walk through after construction the customer care representative went out of his way to show us an emergency shut off value for the fire sprinkler system.  I then asked why I would ever want to turn off the sprinkler system.  One of his explanations was that if my neighbor happened to have a small fire in his garage and set off the sprinkler, ALL the sprinklers in the four units would go off and would continue to run until the fire department arrived and turned them off.

I am not at all against fire sprinklers because they can certainly save lives but I have heard that they can cause much more total damage that when just fire trucks and firefighters are used.  Obviously if the entire building is in flames nothing will be salvageable.

Thomas Hunt, S.E.
ABS Consulting




Scott Maxwell <smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu>

09/10/2003 10:29 AM

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Re: Article from the Chicago Sun-Times





Daryl:

I agree 100%.  My sarcasm was aimed at the inane comment about fire
sprinklers "completely ruining" contents of the building.  First of all,
DUH!  But, my point is that even without fire sprinklers the contents of
the buildings are more than likely going to be ruined by water as the that
is PRECISELY what the firefighters use to put out fire.  Thus, if someone
is going to complain about their things being ruined by water (either due
to sprinklers or firefighters), then they should realize that their only
other option is to get out the hotdogs and marshmellows and have a nice,
non-healthy meal while their building burns down.

In otherwords, the notion that ONLY because there are fire sprinklers in
the building the contents will be ruined by water is absurd (unless
someone has come up with a way to fight fires without water or someother
substance that will do just as much damage).

Regards,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI


On Wed, 10 Sep 2003, Daryl Richardson wrote:

> Scott,
>
>         Having only recently completed the rehabilitation of a 33 suite fire
> damaged building I can confirm, from personal experience, that the water
> damage IS more extensive than the fire damage.  But with fire, as with
> earthquake, the main aim is to prevent PEOPLE damage; buildings (except for
> rare historical sites) can always be replaced with the insurance money (in
> most cases even when there isn't any insurance there is money).
>
>         As an example on how extensive water dammage can be, "The History
> Channel" did a television documentary three or four years ago dealing with the
> restoration of Windsor Castle, in England.  If you're interested, I would
> recommend finding it.  What the restorers of Windsor Castle found in their
> restoration we found in our restoration.  Only the magnitude (and, of course
> the amount of money available) was different.  In our case, only the basic
> masonry components remained intact; of the remainder, only the structural
> components could be salvaged and restored; all of the non structural
> components had to be completely removed.  If the building wasn't of (at least
> some) historical significance the whole thing would have been converted into a
> parking lot.
>
> Regards,
>
> H. Daryl Richardson
>
> Scott Maxwell wrote:
>
> > Stan:
> >
> > </sarcasm on>
> >
> > So then, when your non-fire sprinkled building catches fire are you going
> > to stand outside it and politely ask the firefighters to just "wish" the
> > fire out rather than hook their lines up to fire hydrants and put it out
> > with water?  If so, then I am sure you will enjoy your wonderful,
> > smoldering pile of ash that was your building!
> >
> > In otherwords, while I certainly no fire expert, I do seem to recall that
> > the common way to put out fires (by way of sprinkler system _OR_
> > firefighter) is to use water.  Thus, the odds are that whether or not your
> > building has a sprinkler system, many things in the building will be
> > "completely ruined" by water as that is what the firefighters tend to
> > ALWAYS use to put said fire out.  Of course, we could prevent your things
> > from being ruined by water by not putting the fire out...but then more
> > than likely fire would ruin them instead, but maybe you might find that
> > more acceptable.
> >
> > </sarcasm off>
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > Scott
> > Ypsilanti, MI
> >
> > On Wed, 10 Sep 2003, Stanley E Scholl wrote:
> >
> > > Another factor not mentioned is that when fire sprinklers do work, the
> > > contents and the interior walls, ceiling and many other parts of the
> > > building are usually completely ruined by the water damage.
> > >
> > > Stan Scholl, P.E.
> > > Laguna Beach, CA
> > >
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