When Beecher (IL) Fire Chief Joe Falaschetti decided to build a new home, he knew he wanted to protect his family with home fire sprinklers. In an effort to educate his community about the life- and property-saving benefits of home fire sprinklers, he conducted an open house. The event was a success, the mayor, his home builder, some of his neighbors, firefighters and local media attended the event. They toured his home, learned about how the sprinklers are installed and how they operate.
“Originally, my wife and I were looking at retrofitting our current home with fire sprinklers. When we decided to build a new home, we knew we would protect it with home fire sprinklers,” Falaschetti said. “As fire chief, I’m very much aware of how quickly a fire can spread and become deadly. Unfortunately, I’ve seen my fair share of residential fires and understand the danger to the people who live in the homes and to firefighters.”
Falaschetti was convinced he wanted to live in a sprinklered home after working on a video project with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) and the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB). A few years back, a Beecher home that was slated for demolition was used to shoot an educational video. The video, used at the national level, showcased living room fires with identical furniture – one fire with a home fire sprinkler, the other without a fire sprinkler. Beecher firefighters were on hand to make sure the video was produced safely and for their own training purposes as well.
According to Falaschetti, the fire in the unsprinklered room spread quickly. In just a few minutes flashover occurred, causing all the contents in the room to ignite.
“There was a drastic difference between that fire and the room with the sprinkler,” he said. “Heat from the fire activated the sprinkler and kept the fire from spreading. When the fire was out, the damage was minimal. If there was a family living in that home, they would have been able to safely escape; they would have been able to move back into their home in a day or two. That is what I want for my family. As chief, I also know firefighters are at risk when they respond to a house fire and fire sprinklers will protect them as well.”