SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Residential Sprinkler Systems
By David Hull


December 19, 2007
Wednesday AM

Homeowners, prospective or otherwise, and home builders of Ketchikan, object if you want, complain about the cost or debate the effectiveness of residential sprinkler systems until you are comfortable with your stance, but do not mistake the motives or knowledge of the Ketchikan Fire Department's Chief officers or Fire Marshall staff. The department is not "Empire Building" or attempting to put up a road block to development in Ketchikan. KFD is trying to prevent, to the very best of their abilities, tragedies such as the one that has driven an emotional stake in the very heart of the spirit of Ketchikan.

I'm not going to tell you that a residential sprinkler system would have saved those children. What I can tell you is that sprinkler systems by and large are 95% effective at what they do, put fires out in the early moments of ignition. Would a system have prevented the fire in that house? Statistics show that it would have given the occupants of the house their best shot at escaping the fire. That is what is important here, human lives. All the contents of a building can be replaced, burnt or wet. The issue here isn't about causing more construction costs or holding back progress. The issue here is saving lives, or trying to at least.

The argument was made that firefighters choose the life they lead and having to pull hose 150' or more to the fire is just part of the job. It's not about having to work hard, its about setting up a situation that allows the occupants to escape themselves. Why? The records show the fire department was on scene within 3 minutes of the call. Three minutes! Seattle, New York, Washington D.C. can't do any better than that. Pulling hose up the more than 150' to fight the fire? I base my professional reputation on this statement that no department, NO department can make a better first hit on a fire than the first arriving units of the Ketchikan Fire Department, no one. The tragic truth of this fire was that the occupants could not escape on their own prior to the arrival of the firefighters. That is what this issue should be about, not money. You have to come up with a better reason to counter the City Council's decision than money. Have a better way to protect the lives of the occupants? Is it cheaper? Now there is a debate issue. Let's hear where you all stand on this.

People of Ketchikan. Please use this tragic incident as incentive to look at your own situation to make sure you and your children can escape on your own, before the fire department arrives. All three departments have all the information you could ever need to figure that out. Call us. That is what we are there for. All departments have free, yes FREE, smoke detectors, CO detectors, fire extinguishers, fire escape ladders, because we recognize the issue is about saving lives, not costing people money. Please take advantage of this opportunity to search your house to make sure nothing like this ever happens to you. We can help, just call.

Fires do happen, there is no denying that fact, but fires do not have to take lives. There are things that you can do to help yourself and the department protect the most precious of your possessions, your family. Put this issue where it belongs, saving lives, not money.

David Hull
Ketchikan, AK

About: " 30 + years in the fire service in Ketchikan."

Received December 17, 2007 - Published December 19, 2007



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Ketchikan, Alaska