NFSA Rocks the Minnesota State Fair

This year’s Governor’s Fire Prevention Day at the State Fair was a landmark accomplishment for NFSA’s Minnesota chapter. Each year, this event is billed as the “World’s Largest Fire Prevention Education Event,” and the Minnesota Chapter of NFSA typically has a sprinkler demonstration trailer and an information booth. This year, despite another new location for the fire prevention activities within the fairgrounds and a last-minute reduction in the planned fire prevention activity footprint, Fire Operations Supervisor Dan Bernardy from the Inver Grove Heights Fire Department put together a great collection of fire prevention activities, which included the largest display area that NFSA’s Minnesota Chapter has ever had at the annual event (more than 20 years running).

NFSA staffed a 16-foot information and literature booth, where NFSA staff and volunteers Tim McAllister, Chris Koren from Viking Automatic Fire Sprinkler answered questions from visitors, passed out our famous “Red Bags,” and encouraged fairgoers to check out the fire sprinkler demonstrations.

Staffing the Information Booth (L-R): Tom Brace and Tim Butler, NFSA; Nic Johnsen and Melisa Rodriguez, Leo A. Daly; Minnesota Chapter President, Sean Flaherty; Trinidad Uribe, Local 417, and Joel Hewitt, NFSA. Not pictured: Tim McAllister and Chris Koren, Viking Automatic Sprinkler Company

Volunteers from Leo A. Daly and Sprinkler Fitters Local 417 staffed a fire sprinkler demonstration trailer owned by the Dakota County Fire Chiefs Association. That trailer features a wastebasket and curtain fire that activates a sidewall sprinkler device. Spectators can sit inside the trailer or stand outside and watch the demonstration through the windows of the trailer. Six live burns throughout the day provided viewers with a great demonstration of how fast fire grows, and how fast and efficient fire sprinkler systems are. The audience is directly connected to the fire room through an open doorway, and they can see clearly that fire sprinklers stop the spread of flames, smoke, and heat.

The Sprinkler Demonstration Trailer Volunteers: (L-R): Trinidad Uribe, Local 417 Business Manager; Chris Carlsen, Local 417 Executive Board; Ryan Meyer, Local 417 President; Nic Johnsen, Leo A. Daly Fire Protection Engineer, and Melisa Rodriguez, Leo A. Daly Director of Fire Protection Engineering. Not pictured: Craig Bistodeau, Local 417 Business Agent

Also present at the event was the Minnesota Chapter’s side-by-side sprinkler demonstration trailer. A live burn demonstration during the Fair was originally planned with this trailer, but that had to be cancelled because the reduction in the area allotted for fire prevention activities put us too close to exposures for a safe operation. Instead, we displayed the results of a side-by-side demonstration held just three days before the State Fair, so fairgoers saw the graphic contrast between a sprinkler-protected living room and one allowed to burn to flashover. A looped video presentation showed the audience a variety of clips of our Chapter’s side-by-side demonstrations and educational clips from the Home Fire Sprinkle Coalition. NFSA staff answered questions and explained the devastating results of flashover and the quick and effective response of fire sprinklers.

More than 162,000 people attended the Fair for the event, and several thousand people went through the fire prevention activity area.

We look forward to next year’s “Great Minnesota Get-Together.” In 2020, we hope to have a similar presence – and ideally a live-fire side-by-side demonstration – to continue the Minnesota State Chapter’s public education efforts at this fun, engaging, and educational annual event!