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That's the amount of time it took a fire inside a wooden structure housing a sofa, end table, and other furnishings to reach flashover--the point when all objects in a room simultaneously hit their ignition temperature. Nothing living survives a flashover. Flames funneled out of the eight-by-eight mock living room as spectators, standing nearly 30 feet from the fire, felt the heat. The event, held at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts, to a group of more than 100 people, was too eye-catching to merely watch; many recorded it with their smartphones.
The majority of spectators have a vested interest in how quickly fire can spread in today's homes. They are members of the Massachusetts Building Commissioners and Inspectors Association. Its mission is to assist builders, legislators, and others involved in construction by fostering public safety, health, and welfare through education. North America's most effective sprinkler advocates can attest to the fact that there's nothing quite as educational as a live burn/sprinkler demonstration.
After the Quincy Fire Department extinguished the fire at the aforementioned structure, the second act commenced. Adjacent to the scorched structure was another mock living room with a crucial addition: sprinklers. Once the fire reached a certain temperature, the sprinkler activated, the fire lost its fierceness, and the fire department did minimal work to finish the job.
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View a video and photos from the event, co-hosted by NFPA and the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and download the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition's free fire and sprinkler burn demonstration kit, giving you step-by-step instructions on creating a similar event in your area.
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