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Saved by sprinklers
Covington Fire Dept. holds fire demonstration
The Covington Fire Department holds a demonstration for Newton College and Career Academy students, touting the importance of sprinkler usage in homes. - photo by Gabriel Khouli

A sprinkler system will cost some money up front — about $2 per square foot, though some of the cost could be offset by lower insurance premium payments — but it could save a home, possessions and even a life.

The Covington Fire Department set fires in two small model rooms side by side for a demonstration Friday at the Newton College and Career Academy.

The room without the sprinkler was fully engulfed within five minutes — the couch, table and TV were all charred to a crisp.

The room with the sprinkler — which kicked in within about two minutes — mitigated the effects to some light smoke and water damage.

While both rooms suffered smoke damage, the room with the sprinkler had much lighter damage.

“Water damage is always preferable to smoke damage,” said Covington Fire Safety Educator Jonathan Fuqua.

Smoke alarms are the most important factor in saving a life, Fuqua said, as they are the first device to go off and notify people of danger. During Friday’s demonstration, the alarm went off within a few dozen seconds, while the sprinkler took longer.

Sprinklers are actually activated by heat, not smoke, which prevents them from going off for something like a burnt meal. Sprinklers don’t prevent fires and they don’t always put out fires, but they suppress them and minimize the damage.

Fuqua said the Covington Fire Department generally responds to a fire within 4-10 minutes – more specifically, in 2013 they responded to 90 percent of fires with 8:06 minutes – so a room and potentially even a full house can be fully engaged before the fire department can arrive on scene.

Covington’s ordinances and fire codes don’t generally require houses to have sprinklers, Fuqua said — though some metro Atlanta counties do — so most homes in the city limits aren’t already protected.

For more information, contact Fuqua at 678-712-9387 or