Firefighters have long touted the value of sprinklers for saving lives and preventing property damage, and on Wednesday afternoon Wilmington firefighters got an up close look at just how effective the devices really are.
Fire Chief Rick McClellan said a commercial dryer in the firefighters’ gear and laundry room caught on fire about 5:30 p.m., as firefighters were elsewhere in the public-safety building. He said firefighters were in the kitchen on the second-floor of the public-safety building when they noticed smoke coming from the area where the gear and laundry room and fire apparatus are.
As they went to investigate, they noticed heavy smoke pouring from a 12-inch vent in the roof of the apparatus bay, and arrived downstairs to discover a dryer fire that was contained by a single sprinkler head in the gear/laundry room. “The sprinkler contained it to the area and the contents inside the dryer,” McClellan said. “Here we are with nine guys upstairs and there’s a fire going on and the sprinkler put it out.”
The dryer was a total loss, as were the uniforms that were drying in it, but McClellan said the sprinkler head prevented the blaze from causing any structural damage. Drains in the floor of the laundry/gear room minimized water damage, he said.
All the firefighters had to do was turn the sprinkler off, vent some of the smoke from the fire and clean the floors. “The sprinkler mitigated the whole problem,” McClellan said. “They didn’t even have to bring in a hose line.”