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Proposed East Park homes to be equipped with fire sprinklers

Fire sprinklers, similar to this device, will be installed in each room of every unit in the proposed East Park residential redevelopment project. Construction of the homes is expected to begin this summer. - Courtesy Photo
Fire sprinklers, similar to this device, will be installed in each room of every unit in the proposed East Park residential redevelopment project. Construction of the homes is expected to begin this summer.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

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Designed as a traffic calming method, the narrow roads of the proposed East Park residential redevelopment project will do more than slow cars, they will limit Bremerton Fire Department’s access.

To ensure the safety of future residents of the yet-undeveloped project, BFD staff have devised an alternative method: Fire sprinklers in every home. With cars parked on both sides of the planned roads, the remaining space will be about 12-13 feet, leaving inadequate space for fire apparatus.

“It doesn’t work, it’s a horrible situation,” said Bremerton Fire Marshal Scott Rappleye.

Because the minimal space won’t allow firefighters to drop their ladders or lay hose close enough to the housing units, the department worked with the city to find what Rappleye calls “equivalency.”

“The law says 20 feet wide and the only way around that is an equivalency,” he said. “If they’re not going to make the streets wide enough, they have to give us an equivalency.”

The plan is for one sprinkler head to be installed in each room of every home in the development at an estimated cost of $800,000-$1 million. Should a fire start in a certain area of the home, only the sprinkler in the area of the fire will activate.

“It’s not like on TV where everything rains,” said Bremerton Deputy Fire Marshal Mike Six. “They’re indoor devices.”

BFD will then be notified to ensure the fire is out and to assist with cleanup. Rappleye adds that damage from a fire without sprinklers far exceeds the amount which results from a fire immediately extinguished by overhead sprinklers.

With construction expected to begin this summer, the proposed development of East Park contains multiple residential unit types, from small townhome lofts and carriage units to large traditional family homes and condominiums, according to the Bremerton Department of Community Development. The development will be built during the course of the next four years and will consist of six phases.

Although sprinklers are only required in commercial buildings, both Rappleye and Six hold residential sprinklers in high regard.

“The heat that it takes to set off a sprinkler is the same as a smoke detector,” Six said. “People don’t think about it.”

“All people in the fire service not only understand the need, but also the benefits of sprinklers in saving lives,” Rappleye added. “(Citizens) know sprinklers are there, but if they weren’t installed during construction they’re not going to go back and install them.”

To encourage Bremerton residents to install fire sprinklers in their homes, BFD recently collaborated with the city of Bremerton to revise the ordinance regarding installation of the units. Changes include several cost-saving measures that involve the needed water meter as well as a new flow-through system.

“We’re bringing costs way down for people interested in putting sprinklers in their homes,” Rappleye said. “We’re proactive in putting safety at the forefront and making it less expensive ... The community determines what level of risk they are willing to accept. Our goal is to save lives and property. We’re trying to make that as cost-effective in Bremerton and as easy for citizens without them having to spend an exorbitant amount of money.”

According to Rappleye, fire sprinklers significantly reduce fire deaths, improve insurance ratings, reduce costs of fire damage by about 90 percent, generally cost less than $1 per square-foot for the entire system and generally cost less than carpeting.

For more information on fire sprinklers call the Fire Marshal’s office at (360) 473-5384.

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