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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Upper Marlboro Fire Extinguished by Residential Sprinklers

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us

A residential sprinkler system is credited with extinguishing a fire that would have had a long lasting impact on the lives of several homeowners. At about 6:30 pm, Tuesday, May 31, 2011, Fire/EMS units from Kettering/Largo and surrounding communities responded to a report of a fire in an Upper Marlboro townhouse. Firefighters arrived to find light smoke coming from a 2-story, middle-of-the-row, townhouse in the 9800 block of Royal Commerce Place. An accidental fire erupted in the kitchen of the townhouse after food was left cooking on the stove, unattended by the occupant. Before the fire was able to extend to other rooms in the townhouse, the residential sprinkler system activated and doused the flames. Although there was an estimated $40,000 in fire loss to the structure and contents in the townhouse of origin; fire, heat and smoke damage was limited to this townhouse as well as to adjoining homes. If this fire had continued to burn until firefighter’s arrival for extinguishment it is quite probable that extensive damage and displacement of residents would have occurred to the unit of origin and adjoining homes.

In 1987, a law was passed in Prince George’s County mandating the installation of sprinkler systems in all new residential construction. The law was phased in over a 5 year period. By law, starting in 1992, any and all new residential construction, including multi-family and single family homes, were required to have a sprinkler system.

Acting Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor commented, “In the nearly twenty years since residential sprinklers became mandatory in all new residential construction in Prince George’s County, we have experienced a total of nearly 100 fatalities and scores of injuries attributable to fires in our residential home stock. Out of all those fire incidents, not one single fatality or significant injury due to fire has occurred in a residential structure that was protected by a properly maintained sprinkler system.”

While smoke alarms are designed to alert a family that a fire may be present, residential sprinklers are designed to protect your routes of escape and keep that fire in check long enough for you and your family to make it to safety. An additional benefit is that should a fire occur, they are also designed to greatly minimize the severity of damage and loss of property that would otherwise result. In 1992, Prince George’s County became the first County in the nation to require working smoke alarms and residential sprinklers in all new construction.

Bashoor added, "The fire service considers residential sprinkler systems to be a valuable and indispensable resource in our efforts to protect and serve your family, not to mention their great potential to protect the lives and safety of your community firefighters who must otherwise face the risks and hazards involved in battling an unchecked residential fire. Remember, Safety First Ensures Everyone Goes Home."

For additional information and statistics on the benefits of residential sprinklers in Prince George’s County please click here.

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