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Wisconsin Fire Departments Benefit from Fire Sprinkler Demonstration Awards

In the past year, four Wisconsin fire departments have taken advantage of fire sprinkler education stipends offered by the national nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) and hosted side-by-side fire and sprinkler burn demonstrations in their communities.

The Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department and Allenton Volunteer Fire Department were beneficiaries of $1,o00 stipends from a 2011 Fire & Prevention Safety Grant that HFSC received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The fire departments were two of only 25 departments nationwide to receive the stipends to conduct side-by-side demonstrations.

Sun Prairie side-by-side demonstration

The Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department hosted a side-by-side demonstration at its annual Open House during National Fire Prevention Week. Approximately 5,000 people attended the open house.

“The ability to demonstrate the direct effects of the benefits of residential fire sprinklers gives members of our community firsthand observation and knowledge about how to keep their homes and families safe,” says Sun Prairie Fire Chief Tory Strauss. “The HFSC stipend afforded our volunteer fire department the ability to perform this outstanding public education.”

Setting up the Allenton side-by-side demonstration

At its annual Fire Prevention Week Open House, the Allenton Volunteer Fire Department hosted approximately 626 people, many of which viewed the side-by-side demonstration. View videos of the sprinklered and unsprinklered units.

According to Allenton Deputy Chief Mark Steger, “People were amazed at how fast a fire spreads in an unsprinklered room and how fast a fire sprinkler activates under the low-heat temperature when a fire begins. The demonstration generated a lot of conversation on how fire prevention is very important.”

Watertown Fire Department and Gibraltar Fire & Rescue each received $1,000 as well as part of a grant that HFSC received from the United States Fire Administration. As with the FEMA grant, there were only 25 fire departments nationwide that were selected to receive the $1,000 awards for side-by-side demonstrations.

Watertown side-by-side demonstration

The Watertown Fire Department hosted its demonstration for over 1,500 people during the city’s 14th annual Lights ‘N’ Sirens Community Safety Fair in July. The demonstration was featured on the NBC television station in Madison.

One Watertown observer noted, “It’s pretty amazing how fast [the fire] took off. I don’t want [the fire] in our house. The fire sprinkler system seems like a good idea to keep your family safe.”

Gibraltar side-by-side demonstration

In Fish Creek, Gibraltar Fire & Rescue used its side-by-side demonstration for fire prevention outreach to over 125 attendees at its open house during the final weekend of Fire Prevention Month in October.

“Advertising a live fire at our open house was a great reason to generate interest in the community and expand the advertising coverage as both local papers and several radio stations picked up the press release and provided extra coverage,” says Gibraltar Fire Chief Caleb Whitney.

“People in attendance were shocked at the speed of the fire,” adds Whitney. “No flyer, poster, or video can convey the message as well as sitting in the audience and seeing and feeling the event for yourself.”

Whitney also acknowledged the benefits of his own firefighters watching the demonstration. While his firefighters watched the flashover in the unsprinklered unit, they were able to experience the multiple stages of fire progression and will be able to better recognize when flashover is about to occur in an actual structure fire when the time comes and save firefighters’ lives.

Whitney described the side-by-side units as a “tremendous boon” for the fire department and plans to reuse them for future training and demonstrations.

Other Wisconsin fire departments that have taken advantage of HFSC side-by-side stipends in the past have included:

  • DeForest Area Fire & EMS Department
  • Eau Claire Fire Department
  • Grand Chute Fire Department
  • Town of Hull Fire Department (Stevens Point)
  • Marshall Fire Department
  • Town of Menasha Fire Department (Neenah)
  • North Prairie Fire Department
  • Onalaska Fire Department
  • Richfield Fire Company

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One Response to Wisconsin Fire Departments Benefit from Fire Sprinkler Demonstration Awards

  1. dckiteboards on December 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    A video I threw together for this Open house

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