An April residential fire in Jersey City, New Jersey injured two firefighters and displaced more than 40 people from 11 families. A number of pets died in the blaze. According to a news report on the fire, Jersey City Fire Chief Steven McGill stated that the "fire spread throughout the building very rapidly and as soon as we got in there, there's not enough water you could put on there to put it out fast."
The residence had working smoke alarms but no fire sprinklers. "In this instance, having a fire sprinkler system could have changed the outcome entirely," stated David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, in a recent commentary about the fire. Kurasz is also a member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition. "The spread of the fire would have been controlled by multiple sprinklers and may not have had the opportunity to affect the building next door. Firefighters would have had more time and water to put out the blaze completely. Pets and belongings would have been saved."
While bringing attention to the necessity of fire sprinklers, the fire also underscores the importance of fire safety for pets. Fire sprinklers can be one of the best safeguards in your home if a fire begins and you're not there to rescue them. Here are a few other facts and safety tips from NFPA pertaining to pets:
- Pets and wild animals have a part in starting about 700 home fires per year. Roughly three-quarters of these fires were started by cooking equipment, fireplaces or chimneys, lighting, or candles.
- Pets are curious. They may bump into, turn on, or knock over cooking equipment. Keep pets away from stoves and countertops.
- Some pets are chewers. Watch pets to make sure they don’t chew through electrical cords. Have any problems checked by a professional.
Download NFPA's pet fire safety tip sheet for more information.