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Harper College Hosts Fire Sprinkler Demonstration for Student Programs

Palatine firefighters begin extinguishing a fire that reached flshover in the unsprinklered unit of a side-by-side hosted by Harper College's Fire Science Technology Department. The unsprinklered unit represents a tremendous difference from the sprinklered unit (inset, top left) where the fire was extinguished.

A fire that erupts in a home with no sprinkler system can blaze for critical, life-changing minutes, reducing a room to flames and smoke before firefighters can make it to the scene. Sprinklers can extinguish the blaze quickly on their own, often before emergency crews arrive.

Students from the college's Fire Science Technology Department were among the attendees at the side-by-side demonstration.

Harper College’s Fire Science Technology Department, along with assistance from the Palatine Fire Department, staged a live, public demonstration on September 8 to display that difference. The group ignited a small fire in two simulated, similarly furnished rooms — one with sprinklers installed, and one without. The demonstration was used as a lesson for Harper students and the community. Approximately 150-200 students from the fire science technology, law enforcement, architectural studies, and maintenance technology programs were in attendance.

“Time is the biggest enemy in any fire, and demonstrations like this one are outstanding illustrations of the drastic difference that sprinkler systems can make,” says Professor Sam Giordano, coordinator of Harper’s Fire Science Technology Department. “It’s vital for our students to see this demonstration, and it’s equally important for local residents to see it and to understand the importance of sprinkler systems.”

Sprinklers are mandated for new homes in 74 Illinois jurisdictions, but plenty of others have no such rule, Giordano says. Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and 20,000 are injured in fires – with the vast majority of fatal fires occurring in private homes.


Dramatic differences are shown between the destruction in the unsprinklered unit and the property-saving value of fire sprinklers in the other unit.

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