Sprinklers Help Ensure Business Continuity In Fires

A sprinkler system protected the rear of this building, which was involved in a large fire that completely destroyed three businesses on St. Clair St. in Chatham. (Photo courtesy of Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services.)

If you think an indoor sprinkler system will do more harm than good, think again.

Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services says water damage from a sprinkler system will be much less severe than the damage caused by a fire.

“Actually even the water from a firefighter’s hose line will cause more damage than a sprinkler,” says Public Educator Whitney Burk. “It’s one-tenth of the amount of pressure that is applied in a sprinkler system in comparison to a firefighter hose.”

All that's left of a building involved in a massive fire on St. Clair St. in Chatham. Fire officials say damage would have been less severe had there been a sprinkler system. (Photo courtesy of Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services.)

Fire officials say damage to this part of a building on St. Clair St. would have been less severe had there been a sprinkler system. (Photo courtesy of Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services.)

In fact, Burk says a sprinkler system is to thank for protecting a large area of one of the businesses devastated by Sunday’s fire on St. Clair St. in Chatham. Officials say the fire burned for nearly 11 hours, but the rear of the building was preserved when a sprinkler system was activated.

While not every business is required to have an indoor sprinkler system, Burk says they should still have one installed.

“Sprinklers can allow for a quick escape by containing the smoke and the fire,” she says. “And firefighters are able to make entry more easily into a building that’s protected by sprinklers because the structure of the building is still intact.”

Burk says because sprinklers help prevent damage to the structure of a building, they can increase a business’ capacity to recover quickly from a fire.

Businesses Continue To Recover

The three businesses that were displaced by the fire on St. Clair St. last weekend — Sacwal Flooring, Lighting and Accent Gallery, and Ideal Decorating — are narrowing down their options for where they will be temporarily relocating.

At the moment, they are working out of the Caldwell Brand Source on St. Clair St., but they have also come up with a short list of buildings for a reopening of all three stores.

An official with Sacwal Flooring says in the meantime, customers are encouraged to contact the stores if they have any questions or concerns. All of them are still using their regular phone numbers and emails.

They are also stressing that “the support from the community has been overwhelming and we are grateful to everyone who has been offering to assist in any way possible from free set up space, [and for] the delicious food that keeps us going.”