Photos above and below provided courtesy of the Loveland Fire Rescue Authority (LFRA), Facebook
Last Monday night at approximately 10pm, a 100-year-old apartment building in Loveland, CO experienced a fire. Fortunately, a fire sprinkler system had been installed and operational at the end of 2019 and put out the fire out before it could become large enough to threaten the occupants, building, or adjacent occupancies.
Formerly known as the Lovelander Hotel, the three-story occupancy, which includes an office and basement, primarily houses low-income residents. The fire began when an electrical/mechanical failure occurred in the cooling unit located between the first and second floors of the building. According to local officials, had the fire not been suppressed by the newly retrofitted sprinkler system, it would have run through the space unchecked and likely incurred devastating impact, as the building was fully occupied with people and pets, most of whom were sleeping or getting ready to go to sleep for the evening.
Loveland Fire Rescue Authority (LFRA) Community Safety Division Chief Ned Sparks had been working in coordination with the apartment building’s owner for seven years to complete the fire sprinkler retrofit. While this effort was reportedly a long and at times arduous process, widespread feelings of relief and thanks have reportedly been expressed by the building owner, the members of LFRA, and all those involved in working toward the successful installation of the sprinkler system less than one year ago.
One of the many key areas of cooperation in the project to provide sprinklers in the building was the installation of the underground fire sprinkler line that supplies water to the fire sprinkler system. The cost of the installation of the underground fire sprinkler line was covered by a city-funded grant program that pays up to $25,000 in fire line costs for businesses in the downtown area of Loveland. Chief Sparks led the effort to establish the grant program in 2019, in cooperation with members of the City staff, and the goal of the program is to encourage the installation of fire sprinkler systems in the older buildings that currently lack sprinkler protection in the downtown area.
The outcomes of this incident are also being recognized and celebrated by the nationwide network of residential fire sprinkler advocates who work year-round to promote the life-saving potential and value of sprinkler systems in residential structures. This is a true success story for all of them, and a testament to sprinklers’ true effectiveness. Hopefully it serves as a powerful example to policy-makers, property owners, and others who continue to question the value or worth of installing or retrofitting sprinklers in residential structures, reinforcing that the time and money put toward protecting people and property is more than worth it.