National Fire Prevention week: learning from massive apartment fires in past year

Rubble was all that remained of one building in the Black Sands Apartment complex in North Lincoln last October after a three alarm fire ripped through it.

The blaze caused more than 2.5 million dollars in damage and left over 50 people with no where to live.

Investigators say an improperly discarded cigarette on a balcony was likely what sparked the fire, and those balconies did not have a sprinkler system.

“Fire sprinkles protect buildings inside out not outside in. A fire starts on the balcony, spreads up the outside, pops off gets into the roof then there goes the building, the whole building goes down because there’s no catching up to it once it gets into the attic space,” said chief fire inspector Bill Moody.

International Fire Code, or IFC, started requiring apartment buildings to have sprinkler systems in 2003.

It is up to each city to adopt the fire code when it expires, something Lincoln did not do until three years ago and only requires in newly constructed buildings.

Black Sands was built in 2006 and did not have any sprinklers when the fire broke out one year ago.

This week is National Fire prevention Week and chief fire inspector Bill Moody says these big fires should serve as a lesson.

“It’s a little tough to take because we know we can prevent those types of fires if people just take fire prevention seriously.”

So how can these types of fires be prevented?

Moody says properly disposing of cigarettes in a bottle filled with sand or dousing them with water would prevent numerous fires every year.

Also equipping buildings with sprinklers would save lives and prevent fires started on the outside of a building, like at black sands, from spreading destroying the entire building.

“Your survival increases by 80% in a sprinkled building.”

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