A Sprinkler Story

Lisa Lee, Fire Protection Specialist in the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, passed on this story to me.  Lisa is a fellow Technical Committee member of  the National Fire Protection Association.  Together with many  talented professionals, our committee has enlarged the scope of  NFPA 150 Fire Safety in Racetrack Stables to encompass fire and life safety requirements for all confined animals from mice in a laboratory to elepahnts in a zoo.  The new Standard is NFPA 150 Fire Safety in Animal Housing Facilities.

From Lisa:

“The story as I was told…

Canajoharie, NY —  A farmer woke up in the morning to find he had no water pressure, and went out to his barn to check on the cause (house water is fed through the barn).  When he arrived at his milkhouse, he  had no lights, and using a flashlight found the interior of the milkhouse to be  black, and burned.  HOWEVER, the fire had been extinguished prior to his arrival.

Upon investigation, it was determined that a water line with a plastic section (temporary repair to the water line) had failed due to the fire, and the spraying water acted like a sprinkler, extinguishing the fire.  The cause of the fire is attributed to a gas heater located in one corner. Combustible items had been left hanging above it.  The gas provider had serviced the heater in September and found no problems with it.

I am told that the fire was hot enough to turn copper piping inside to ‘orange.’

This farmer milks 142 head of cattle, plus houses heifers, dry cows, etc….so a tragedy for him was averted by a piece of plastic.  Needless to say, the waterline is being repaired and plastic is being installed AGAIN—if it worked once….”