Last week, two fires in Loudoun County residences were contained by automatic fire sprinklers, limiting damage and injuries, and keeping people in their homes.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 13, 2023, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue (LCFR) units from Leesburg, Lansdowne, Ashburn, Lucketts, and Dulles South were alerted to a structure fire at 660 Fort Evans Road in Leesburg. The occupant of a third-floor apartment called 911 reporting the dryer was on fire.
Firefighters arrived and confirmed there was a fire involving a clothes dryer that had been extinguished by the automatic sprinkler system. Although the fire was out, fire and rescue crews remained on scene to check for fire extension and secure the sprinkler system. In this instance, the LCFR Fire Marshal's Office concluded that the cause of the fire was a malfunction in the clothes dryer. Apartment occupants were alerted to the fire when they heard the fire alarm system sounding and saw smoke in the area. When the occupant opened the dryer to determine what was happening, the fire escaped the dryer, but a strategically placed sprinkler head kept the fire in check. There were no residents displaced and damages from the event are estimated at $15,000. Although there was some water damage, without the sprinkler system in place, the damage done by an unchecked fire would have been significantly greater along with the potential for injuries and displacement.
The following day, June 14, 2023, LCFR units from Brambleton, Moorefield, Dulles South, Kirkpatrick Farms, Ashburn, and Sterling were dispatched to the 23,000 block of Hopewell Manor Terrace for a reported structure fire. The initial 911 call came from the fire alarm monitoring company, followed by a second 911 call from a neighbor reporting water and smoke coming from a window.
Firefighters arrived on scene to find a four-story townhouse with an active sprinkler system activation on the rear balcony. Crews determined that there had been a fire on the third-floor balcony and that the fire had been extinguished by the sprinkler system. There was no fire extension to the adjoining townhomes, however the home below the dispatched address received minor water damage.
The LCFR Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was accidental, caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials. The fire suppression system worked as designed, activating the sprinkler system, and extinguishing the bulk of the fire until firefighters arrived on scene. Damages are estimated at $20,500 and there were no injuries or displacement of occupants. You must always be cautious when extinguishing smoking materials. Always use an appropriate receptacle, with non-flammable contents such as sand or water. Keep it away from your home and remember, if you smoke, put it out, all the way, every time!
In both incidents, the fire alerting and automatic fire sprinkler systems worked as designed and made a significant difference in the outcomes. System Chief Keith Johnson reiterates, “the benefits provided when residences are equipped with automatic fire sprinklers and appropriate fire and smoke alarms is undeniable. Zero displacements, no injuries and only $35,500 in damages is a small price to pay for what could have turned into deadly fire events.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association’s U.S. Experience with Sprinklers report (PDF), the home fire death rate was 90 percent lower when fire sprinklers and hardwired smoke alarms were present during fires, and the average firefighter injury rate was nearly 80 percent lower when fire sprinklers were present during fires. Learn more about fire prevention, protection, and fire sprinkler advocacy in our area by visiting loudoun.gov/fireprevention or calling 703-737-8600.