Fire Sprinkler Demos to Light Up Alaska State Fair

The Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety and the Mat-Su Fire Chiefs Association will light two fires at the fair Aug. 29 and Sept. 2 at 6 pm, showing a live audience how fast a home fire will spread.

Fairgoers at the Alaska State Fair will see for themselves how fast a home fire will spread and how well a home fire sprinkler performs. The Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety, part of the Department of Public Safety, and the Mat-Su Fire Chiefs Association will light two fires at the fair Aug. 29 and Sept. 2, both at 6 pm, before a live audience at the Alaska State Fair grandstand area.

"Sometimes people just need to see it to believe it," said Mahlon Greene, coordinator of public education for the Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety. “There's nothing like the heat and smoke of a real fire to help adults and children understand just how fast a home fire is. With our side-by-side comparison, we can show both the danger of fire and the value of having a fire sprinkler system installed."

Firefighters and fire sprinkler pipefitters built two structures for each demonstration, each room containing common furnishings, window treatments, and a working smoke alarm. One of the rooms is equipped with a fire sprinkler. Firefighters and fire trucks from the Mat-Su Fire Chiefs Association will be present for safety reasons.

“By providing this unique live fire comparison, people not only gain an appreciation for fire power; they also realize what an incredible advantage it is to have a fire sprinkler system installed if fire breaks out,” said Greene. Sprinklers quickly limit fire, smoke, and heat damage, saving structures and lives, according to Greene, who can be reached at 907-746-5062 or by e-mailing mahlon.greene@alaska.gov. The division, a partner of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, offers these facts about homes with sprinkler systems:

  • Fire sprinklers are supplied by household water, usually off the water main. Just like ordinary plumbing, sprinkler system piping is hidden behind walls and ceilings.
  • The sprinklers are positioned along the piping and can be seen in ceilings or up high along certain walls.
  • Sprinklers are activated only by the high temperature of a fire – typically between 135 and 165 degrees F.
  • Burned toast or other smoke cannot set off a sprinkler; neither can a smoke alarm that activates.
  • Sprinklers are designed to flow between 10-25 gallons of water per minute. That’s about 10-15 times less water flow than fire department hoses, and under far less pressure.
  • By operating while a fire is still small, a sprinkler controls or extinguishes a fire, slowing the spread of poisonous smoke and deadly heat. That fast and effective action gives family members more time to get out safely, saving lives.
  • The sprinkler confines the fire damage so that surrounding rooms are protected, saving valuables.

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