The odd circumstances around a fire occurring in rural New Madrid County, Missouri, demonstrated the advantages of rapid water application to a fire in its incipient stage. On the evening of January 2, just before 5 p.m., a fire occurred in an occupied, single-family dwelling. The home was located approximately eight miles outside of New Madrid, along a gravel county road. The closest water supply for firefighting was six miles from the home. The weather was clear, but temperatures were in the single digits.
The fire department arrived in 15 minutes with an engine carrying 1,000 gallons of water, followed by a tanker carrying 2,500 gallons of water. However, upon investigation, crews found the fire already extinguished. The fire originated in an electrical wall receptacle. As the flames began to climb both the inside and outside of the wall, a PVC water line that happened to be located in the stud space melted. A stream of water discharged from the line, creating a de facto fire sprinkler, controlling the fire before the fire department even arrived.
It doesn’t take much of an imagination to think how this fire could have spread and developed had the “sprinkler” not functioned, and whether the 3,500 gallons would have been enough to control the fully developed fire. Home fire sprinklers can truly make a big difference, especially in rural communities in which fire department response times can be longer, and water supplies can be limited.
For additional insight into how Missourians are promoting home fire sprinklers, visit the Missouri Fire Sprinkler Coalition page.