Fire experts urge home sprinkler installation

By Nikki

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) It's a startling number. Every 169 minutes someone dies in a house fire, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts say that number can greatly be reduced by simply installing home sprinklers.

On Wednesday night, firefighters across the state in conjunction with South Carolina Sprinklers Association and the National Fire Protection Association conducted a firefighter demonstration at the Fire Museum in North Charleston.

Two makeshift rooms, one with sprinklers and one without, were set on fire. In no time, the room without sprinklers started to burn rather quickly and after just three minutes, the room was completely engulfed in flames.

"The sprinkler system is now the next phase above the smoke alarm," said Princella Lee-Bridges, whose her home in Greenville caught on fire 21 years ago. "As a result, I went back in to try and get my daughter and was burned on 49 percent of my body."

Working closely with the National Fire Protection Association, she's now on a mission to educate the community.

"Had sprinklers been in my home that evening, the outcome would have been drastically different," she said.

A second room, equipped with sprinklers, was then set on fire. In just under two minutes the sprinklers turned on, preventing the fire from spreading.

"At no point did that room become 'un-survivable' at any space," said Jonathan Jones, a Clarendon County firefighter.

Jones recently installed sprinklers in his own home.

"It was inexpensive; it was painless," Jones said. "It ended up costing us about $1.75 a square foot."

Both agree it's small price to pay for peace of mind.

"The fire doesn't just injure the individual; it injures all those who know the individual," said Lee-Bridges.