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Bathroom remodeling starts house fire

Original post made on May 10, 2010

A husband and wife who recently purchased a house in eastern Menlo Park will be forced to sleep elsewhere, following a Friday afternoon fire caused by work being done to their bathroom, a fire chief said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, May 8, 2010, 12:49 PM

Comments (9)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Had this residence had a residential sprinkler system the damage would have been lees than $20k and the home would have been immediately available to live in.

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Posted by Not so fast Pete
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 10, 2010 at 12:39 pm

For this fire, the sprinklers would have had to be in the attic and ceiling to be effective. The water damage from sprinklers do not leave a home immediately available to live in. Wet insulation causes ceilings to collaspe. Then, restoration companies have to take out soaked carpet and pad, wet insulation, dehumidify the remaining wet sheetrock, etc. The soot from the caustic smoke requires interior repainting unless it is desired that occupants reside in a contaminated area. Then coordination is needed to replace all the damage. Also, unless the sprinkler system is flushed regularly, the water becomes stagnant and even more of a hazard.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm

In a legal residential sprinkler sysytem the attic and ceiling are included.
With a 4 minute Fire District response time there would have been very little water damage.
The sprinkler would have activated ONLY in the room/area where there was a fire - the bathroom which is, by designed, optimized for water damage.
There would have been virtually no soot since the fire would have been extinguished long before there was extensive smoke.

It is VERY important to know the facts before posting comments which require actual knowledge.

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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Yes, the facts are there were no sprinklers. Monday morning quarter backs are fun to watch, wishing they were in the game.

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Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Fire sprinklers are not shut off on the immediate arrival of the FD, they need to check that the fire is out. Also, sprinklers do not cover insides of walls, as we saw when the store next to Pete's had a fire spread in its walls. I have seen the water damage in two different homes - it was not a mere clean up, one was a complete rebuild.

Sprinklers are appropriate for townhouses and condos where your neighbor is attached to you, and in row stores in wood construction. But there is no magic shield; there are better places to put your safety dollars than sprinklers in small, single family homes - that's why it should remain the homeowners choice, not yet another unfunded mandate by government.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Not so fast states:"Monday morning quarter backs are fun to watch, wishing they were in the game. "

No Monday morning quarterbacking here - I have been a strong, outspoken public advocate of residential fire sprinklers for years.

The average amount of water used to extinguish a fire with fore sprinklers is much less than 10% of the water required to put out the same fire with fire hoses.

Where residential fire sprinklers are not yet mandated by local laws they soon will be when the new National Fire Code goes into effect.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 10, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Ya we know Peter. You are a broken record and the subject. It IS exdpensive to retro fit houses. Nice try, you are Monday mornign 1/4 backing.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 10, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Steve states:"It IS exdpensive(sic) to retro fit houses" (

It is also very expensive to have an uncontrolled residential fire and we have had 3 in the last few months including one with a fatality - all of which would have been prevented by residential fire sprinklers. And residential fire sprinklers will soon be mandated by the new National Building Code.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I am a builder. Residential fire sprinklers are coming. The cost is typically $2.25/square foot. So for a 3000 sf house it will cost about $6,750. That is for new construction or in remodel where sheetrock is to be removed. Retrofitting sprinkler IS expensive due to the sheetrock removal and patching that is required, but how expensive depends on whether the house is one story or two.

Peter is right though, had this house had fire sprinler teh damage would have been much less severe. Even when you figure water damage costs. It takes a lot to do $150,000 damage with water that is not running very long. Once this fire broke into the attic it would have been extinguished instead of continuing to burn. Running a sprinkler head wide open for even 10 minutes would not do $150,000 damage.

I think it is fair to require retrofitting of sprinklers in major remodels and in new construction. As a total portion of the cost of construction it is not significant and they save lives.

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