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Fire Extinguished by Sprinkler Prevents Damage and Displaced Residents at Donald E. Lewis Retirement Center

Ashland Fire & Rescue responded to a 911 call of smoke in the building at the Donald E. Lewis Retirement Center on YMCA Way in Ashland on Monday evening. Residents of the building had evacuated into a cold evening as Ashland firefighters arrived and entered the building. They found a fire in a bathroom that had been extinguished by the automatic fire sprinkler system. 

The fire burned a small waste receptacle with localized smoke and water damage. Residents were allowed back into the building quickly, preventing a costly relocation and exposing dozens of elderly residents to low temperatures. 

There’s a lot of myths out there about fire sprinklers,” said Mark Shay, Fire Marshal for Ashland Fire and Rescue. “The truth is fire sprinklers save lives and property and this fire is a perfect example. Only one sprinkler activated right above the fire and put it out quickly. There was minor water damage that was cleaned up by firefighters, but that would also have happened if firefighters had put the fire out with hoses. We say that having sprinklers is like having a firefighter in your house 24/7 and this proves that point,” Shay concluded.  

The National Fire Protection Association reports that between 2015 and 2019 the death and injury rates for civilians in fires where sprinklers were present were 89% and 27% lower, respectively. Also, the rate of firefighter injuries was 60% lower compared to fires where sprinklers were not installed. 

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