MORTON GROVE, ILL. — Dozens of Chicago area fire inspectors participated in a "Live Burn" demonstration, held here at Xylem’s Little Red School House, March 17, 2012. Two side-by-side units were set on fire, and despite high winds that day, the burn demonstration was successful.
The live burn demo was part of a certification course specifically designed for fire professionals with prior experience or new to stationary fire protection. Xylem’s A-C Fire Pump, a manufacturer of fire pumps and systems, Apex Pumping Equipment Inc. and Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board oversaw the educational class and controlled the burn demonstration.
Throughout the year, Xylem conducts four to five certified fire pump training programs. The one-day training course qualifies for .8 CEUs, and it is offered to sprinkler contractors, design engineers, inspectors and authorities having jurisdiction involved with the industry.
“The 40 MPH winds made the demonstration very dramatic when the smoke bellowed and engulfed the MG fire department,” said Hansford Stewart, director of global marketing of A-C Fire Pump, residential and commercial water. “The ‘unsprinklered’ fire went to 1,330°F in about 90 seconds.”
According to Stewart, who is also principal on NFPA 20: Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, Underwriters Laboratories’ Standards Technical Panels and FM Globals’ Advisory Board, the purpose of the live burn was to demonstrate how effective residential sprinklers are for life safety.
“The demonstration shows how ordinary furnishings in all residential buildings can build up enough thermal energy to reach flashover of all of the items within (when all of the combustible items in a room reach its ignition temperature at the same time no one can survive flashover, even a firefighter with their protective gear on),” said Tom Lia, executive director of Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board.
Even though the course is designed for beginners with little experience, there were some veterans in the class who needed recertification or an update on the latest codes and standards.
“The inspectors came away from the demonstration with a new perspective for the need to enforce residential fire sprinkler codes not only in the city of Chicago but on a national level,” said Stewart. “We have very safe commercial buildings in this country, but we still lose thousands of lives in residential fires.”
“The majority of the fire inspectors were not familiar with stationary fire pump systems,” added Stewart. “After the training inspectors are capable of inspecting an installation for code compliance, witness annual testing and verify compliance with NFPA 20 and 25.”
To read more about the burn demonstration, go to Candace Roulo’s Sustainably Speaking blog.