Side by Side Demo at Mankato Public Safety Open House

(L-R) Mankato Firefighter Fitzgerald, Public Safety Marshal Sean Hayes, and Fire Captain Goodrich.

On Sunday, October 13, NFSA staff traveled to Mankato, Minnesota to attend a Fire Prevention Week open house and to observe a side by side sprinkler demonstration presented by Mankato Public Safety Marshal and NFSA member Sean Hayes. Marshal Hayes built his side by side demonstration cubicles from plans provided by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, materials donated by Home Depot, and sprinkler supplies donated by Olympic Fire Protection (Owatonna, MN).

There were several unique features of this side by side demonstration. The first was the scarcity of flammable materials in the cubicles. A wastebasket with newspapers, a foam-padded couch, and a small wooden bookshelf were all that was needed for a most successful demonstration. It was surprising to many that a fire in the couch alone would produce so much heat, smoke, and flames! Another unique feature was the use of a garden hose supply line from the fire station to the sprinkler system. Roughly 100’ of 5/8” hose was all that was needed to supply the sprinkler device. A youngster from the crowd was recruited to use the Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC) to check on surface temperatures during the burn. Temperatures reached over 1000 degrees inside the living room during flashover. Finally, the foam rubber padding inside the couch produced a persistent flame and large quantities of toxic smoke.

Marshal Hayes did a superb job of narrating the fire scenarios, stressing fire prevention tips, smoke alarm use, family egress planning, and, of course, sprinkler use in residential units. In the ensuing demonstration, smoke alarm activation took place very quickly, and flashover in the unprotected side occurred just 2 minutes and 30 seconds after ignition. Watch the flashover video here:

In the sprinkler-protected side, smoke alarm activation again occurred very rapidly, and the 175-degree sprinkler device activated 63 seconds after ignition. Fire burning between the wall and the couch – fed by the foam rubber cushioning along the top of the couch – was held in check by the fire sprinkler system, giving the crowd a great opportunity to see the overhaul procedures used by firefighters and giving Marshal Hayes the opportunity to stress the residential systems are designed to protect life, delay flashover, and protect egress routes. The crowd of 150 people certainly was engaged and enlightened!

KEYC 12 TV was on scene and reported on all the activities of the open house, including the side by side demonstration and an interview with Marshal Hayes. Media and social media coverage at these types of events and side by side demonstrations can really leverage the outreach efforts made by local fire and code officials and NFSA members. Here’s a link to the KEYC TV coverage:

More information about the Mankato Fire Department can be found on their website: