BETHLEHEM Time is precious when it comes to structure fires.
In the few minutes it takes first responders to get to the site of a fire, the building may already be engulfed in flames with little salvageable.
“Our first goal is always to make sure the families and people inside a home get out alright,” said Peter Lattanzio, former Colonie fire chief and president of C & L Inspection Services.
However, fire and code enforcement officials believe property and lives can be saved if homeowners install the proper equipment in their homes. On Friday, May 17, the New York State Building Officials Conference held a fire demonstration for its members at the Bethlehem Fire Training Facility off Winne Place in Glenmont. It was held so those in attendance could “see firsthand the power of fire and how effective fire sprinklers can be” when installed in the home.
Lattanzio said similar demonstrations are held for local code enforcement and government officials about once a year in order to give them perspective.
“Most people only see what’s in movies, they’re not living it like we are,” he said. “What’s depicted isn’t realistic.”
For the demonstration, fire officials set up an insulated, plywood structure with two similar rooms sitting side-by-side. In each room were two arm chairs, a television sitting on a table and an “accelerant” of newspapers strewn about. Both rooms looked the same, but one had a sprinkler system and one did not.
The two rooms were lit on fire separately to better show the difference a sprinkler system can make. Several members of the Delmar Fire Department entered the first room and gently lit several newspapers on fire with a flare. It took about 4 minutes before the room was fully engulfed.
Lattanzio said if the situation had been a real structure fire, the levels of carbon monoxide in the room would most likely have caused anyone within the home to pass out within the first three minutes. Temperatures in the first room were estimated to have reached about 1,500 to 1,900 degrees before fire officials doused the flames.