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Fire co. snags hot grant

— The Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. will spend the winter building a model home and in the spring, will set it on fire.

“We’ve never done this. It’s something new to us,” said Chief Pete Shaw.

The fire company was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) to conduct a live demonstration to increase residential sprinkler education.

“The criteria is that we have to use that money to build home sprinkler demonstration,” said Shaw. “It’ll entail a small building, maybe about 10 by 10 feet, something that is disposable and we’ll replicate a living room or small bedroom.”

HFSC is a national nonprofit organization that provides information and educational materials about residential home sprinkler systems. It awarded similar grants to just 50 fire departments nationwide as part of the “Built for Life Fire Department” program.

The model room will be furnished the way a regular home would be, except one side will be equipped with a home sprinkler system and the other side won’t.

“We’ll light both on fire at the same time and show the difference that a home sprinkler in place would have on a fire,” said Shaw.

Sprinkler systems are common fixtures in commercial venues but their use in residential homes is still fairly rare, said Shaw. Even so, it’s a safety feature worth discussing.

“It’s not that common at this point and that’s what we’re trying to get to — trying to get to the point they are more common,” said Shaw. “They do save lives and people on their insurance bill. It’s one of those things that is kind of hard to get implemented.”

Shaw said he’s been working for a couple years to implement a sprinkler ordinance in new construction but it’s a lengthy process and the live demonstration will hopefully help move that along.

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