Side By Side Demonstration at the Stillwater Fire Prevention Week Open House

On Saturday, October 12, NFSA staff members brought a side by side demonstration to the Stillwater Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Week open house. The temperature was a cold 35 degrees and the sky was dreary. A brisk southwest wind was blowing outside, and a rain and snow mix fell throughout the morning and early afternoon. Several hundred community members huddled inside the station, engaging in fire station tours; information booth activities by Law Enforcement, the Minnesota National Guard, EMS, Public Health, Fire, and Emergency Management; blood mobile donations, and a host of educational and fun activities for families. Outside, Stillwater Fire crews and NFSA State Coordinator Joel Hewitt worked to prepare for the live-fire demonstration.

A stiff breeze made the ignition process in the trailer problematic. Once ignited, however, the audience saw how rapidly smoke alarms activate, and how fast and effective the single sprinkler device was in extinguishing the fire. Smoke alarm activation occurred at 15 seconds, with the 155-degree sprinkler activating just 5 seconds later! Unfortunately, video was not available for the sprinkler-protected portion of the demonstration. The “flashover” side of the demonstration was, however, captured on video and the crowd got the opportunity to see how fast, hot, and smoky a living room fire can get. In spite of the brisk wind and cold conditions, flashover occurred in 3 minutes. See the video here:


Following the side by side demonstration, NFSA Regional Manager Tim Butler was interviewed by a local Valley Access Cable channel news reporter. NFSA staff also had the opportunity to discuss the AHJ Promotional Membership opportunities with a number of local fire officers. These memberships are vital to bringing a fire service perspective into our work and educating both suppression and code/inspection officials in sprinkler-related requirements and benefits. For the audience members present, the benefits of residential fire sprinklers were plainly evident in the results of the side by side demonstration.