'Large Homes Don't Burn, And Titanic Is Unsinkable'

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The Titanic is unsinkable ... right?

I find it ironic that in the Friday, November 17 (issue of the) Payson Roundup, two of the articles on the front page had such different opinions, yet were tied together.

One was, "Petitioners force vote on fire code," an article about a group of local businessmen who oppose the Town of Payson's adoption of a Sprinkler Code. Mr. Ray Pugel, one of the group's leaders, says in this article, "We keep piling on these bureaucratic things and we just can't afford any more of them.

"We don't want anybody to get hurt, but these aren't the kinds of homes that burn down." He continues, "We realize these changes were made with good intentions, but they just create too many road blocks. But how many homes burn down because they don't have sprinklers? We can only have what we can afford."

Now, for the second story on (Friday's) front page, "Two die in mobile home fire." Thursday night, two people died in a fire in their home in Payson.

I was able to see the tragedy of this fire firsthand, as I assisted in locating one of the victims. Mr. Pugel stated, "how many of these homes burn down because they don't have sprinklers?" Well, this group will likely say, "this was a mobile home and they are built to burn down," or something like that.

I agree that the houses being built today are much safer than in prior years. But this is because of the Uniform Building Codes and Uniform Fire Codes, not because of the changes made by the building industry voluntarily. If you left it up to them, it is evident that no changes would be made to save lives.

In America every year, more than 6,000 men, women and children are killed in fires, of which 78.3 percent are in residential fires. That is a lot of lives lost because the (victims) couldn't afford to have more "bureaucratic things." as (Pugel's) group states.

Records indicate that in the last 29 years of residential sprinklers use, not one fatality has occurred in a home with a properly operating sprinkler system.

The cost to the public for these nonsprinkler (equipped) house fires is staggering. The cost of putting out the fires and the cost of personnel to fight fires is rising.

The fire department (is at greater risk) has to risk when a (burning) home (is not equipped with sprinklers). Also, in the Payson area, homes are getting bigger and bigger. It is not hard to find homes the size of most commercial buildings anymore, with many being more than 8,000 square feet.

The home which burned Thursday was approximately 1,400 square feet in size. Due to the amount of fire and debris from the fire, it took three of us firefighters almost 15 minutes after entry to locate the first victim. They only had minutes to get out of the fire. That's what residential sprinklers are designed to give (us): time to get out.

How long would it have taken to get out of this home if it had been a 3,000 square foot home? Would we have made it out alive? Should we be risking our lives because some people don't want to pay to protect themselves? Where is the tradeoff here?

The builders say that this amendment is cost prohibitive. The average cost of a home over 3,000 sq. ft. in this area is (more than) $125 dollars per sq. ft. The average cost of adding a sprinkler system is less then $1.25 per square foot, or one percent. You can spend more to upgrade carpet than that.

This seems like a small amount to pay to help protect your life and that of loved ones. Who knows? Your grandchildren may decide to visit you next week. Is it worth $1.25 per square foot (to possibly save their lives)?

We hope to never see another tragedy like what happened Thursday night, but reality says we will. Please help to eliminate what we can of this problem. (Let's) not continue to add to it by turning back the pages of time and going against the Uniform Fire Code and its amendments.

Yes, these large houses are not the kind that burn. And the Titanic is unsinkable.

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