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Tragic Apartment Fire in Loganville is Reminder of Increased Fire Risks for Elderly

A fire in a two-story, four-unit apartment building in the Village of Loganville on the morning of Thursday, March 7, claimed the life of a 70-year-old woman, who died on the way to the hospital. Fire officials say the fire started in her unit. The fatality marks the eleventh residential fire fatality of the year in Wisconsin.

Bob Kleinheinz, regional manager for the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA-WI), says the fatality is a sad reminder as to why requirements for fire sprinklers in new construction are now present in national model fire and building codes from both of the major code-governing bodies, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Code Council.

Wisconsin state law has required the installation of fire sprinkler systems in all new construction multifamily dwellings of three units and greater since January 1, 2011. Unfortunately, a fire sprinkler system was not required by code at the time this apartment building was built.

“A fire sprinkler system could have prevented the fatality and property damage,” says Kleinheinz, who also notes that the elderly woman fell into the high-risk category for fire deaths, which includes the elderly, young children and those with disabilities.

According to NFPA statistics, having both smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system present in a residential building reduces the risk of death in a fire by 82%, relative to having neither. Smoke alarms alert occupants of a fire, while fire sprinklers allow them to safely escape. Each sprinkler is individually activated by heat, so only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates, controlling or even extinguishing a fire in its place of origin and keeping toxic smoke and fumes from spreading.

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

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