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Cassian Home Fire Fatality Highlights Risks of Fires in Rural Areas

A house fire in the rural Town of Cassian on Tuesday, February 12, claimed the lives of the two homeowners, a 53-year-old female, who is the Oneida County jail administrator, and her 55-year-old husband. Reports from the United States Fire Administration mark the fatalities as the eighth and ninth residential fire fatalities and the second multiple-fatality residential fire in Wisconsin for this year alone.

According to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, five fire departments responded to the fire, all of which are volunteer fire departments. Also, the Cassian Volunteer Fire Department confirmed that the rural location of the home where the fire occurred does not have fire hydrants or a municipal water supply.

These environmental factors are an unfortunate recipe for fatal fires, notes Bob Kleinheinz, regional manager for the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA-WI). He says that if a home fire sprinkler system had been present, it could have prevented the fire from spreading, allowing the homeowners to escape safely without harm.

“Fire sprinklers are individually activated by heat and control or extinguish a fire in its place of origin, keeping toxic smoke and fumes from spreading,” he says. “A fire sprinkler’s quick response happens well before the 15-20 minutes it may take a slower responding volunteer fire department to arrive with water tankers. And in an unsprinklered fire, the fire department likely will need to refill their tankers to fight the fire, which usually spreads throughout an entire home by the time they arrive.”

“Fire sprinklers should always be considered in addition to smoke alarms when building a new home because they save lives,” adds Kleinheinz. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics state that installing both smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system in a home reduces the risk of death in a fire by 82%, relative to having neither.

In fact, home fire sprinklers are now present in national model fire and building codes from both of the major code-governing bodies, NFPA and the International Code Council. However, the State of Wisconsin has not adopted those model codes as part of its current legislation.

“We offer condolences to the family and friends of the fire victim in Cassian,” adds Kleinheinz.

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