Sprinklers Saved Lives in Greenfield Apartment Fire
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan said the cause of the December 10, 2013 the fire at 75 Wells Street in Greenfield appears accidental. The fire originated in the living room of a 3-bedroom apartment. The investigation is on-going but the evidence points to an accidental cause of the fire.
The 103-unit apartment building, a converted mill, had sprinklers in the hallways but not inside the individual apartments. The sprinkler system contained the fire until the Greenfield Fire Department arrived to extinguish it.
Chief Strahan said, “There is no doubt in my mind that sprinklers saved lives in this fire. The man across the hall heard the fire alarm and opened his door. The heat from the hallway was so hot that it singed his hair and set off the heat detector in his own apartment. He quickly closed the door and moved his wife, to the window and awaited firefighters.” He added, “It is hard to imagine just how hot a fire is unless you have experienced it personally. Keep in mind the sprinklers had already activated, starting to control the fire and heat when the man’s hair was singed.”
Coan said, “Had the sprinklers not controlled the fire, most certainly the fire damage and the amount of water the fire department would have used to extinguish it would have been significantly worse.” He added, “Had the apartments themselves been sprinklered, it is very likely a single sprinkler head would have controlled the fire and contained the damage to the apartment of origin.”
The fire was jointly investigated by the Greenfield Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
Chief Strahan said “Firefighters responded quickly to suppress the fire and to swiftly help the many elderly and disabled residents evacuate the building safely. I know their efforts prevented additional injuries.” Firefighters evacuated many residents through the smoky hallways, sharing their air along the way. The woman who lived in the apartment suffered smoke inhalation. A firefighter and police officer suffered minor injuries.
Sprinklers keep fires smaller and cooler giving people more time to escape. Usually only the sprinkler head near the fire will activate. For more information about facts and myths about sprinklers go to the Fire Sprinkler Initiative at: http://firesprinklerinitiative.org/resources/fact-sheets/myths-vs-facts.aspx