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Sprinkler System Saves Apartment

On July 5th, a 4-alarm fire destroyed several condos near Lake Conroe. These condominiums were built in the early heyday surrounding Lake Conroe in the 1970s and lacked many of the modern safety features found today in most multi-family residential properties. As land prices rise, many new residential developments feature zero lot line homes, multi-story apartments and townhomes.

Montgomery County adopted a County Fire Code in 2008. Ironically, the County adopted a fire code shortly after two major fires in one week destroyed a Best Western Hotel in East Montgomery County and the April Sound Clubhouse near the most recent condo fire. The timing of the adoption of a County Fire Code was fortuitous as it preceded the current boom in commercial development and will insure increased safety in buildings currently being built for decades to come. Not only will the buildings be safer for their occupants, but for firefighters as well.

Just a few days after the 4-alarm fire left several residents homeless, some of the same firefighters were called to a nearby apartment complex where another fire had broken out in the Montgomery Trace apartments on Hwy 105 W. A resident had accidentally left their stove on, igniting a fire that threatened to spread into the attic and to other nearby apartments, but it was quickly extinguished by the building’s fire sprinkler system.

All new multi-family complexes such as Montgomery Trace are equipped with fire alarm and sprinkler systems that can quickly alert residents and firefighters when a fire starts. It also helps control the fire until firefighters are able to arrive.  In this case, two fire sprinklers in the kitchen and one on each side of the stove activated and extinguished the fire even before firefighters got to the scene. The first units from the Montgomery Fire Department were on scene within 3 minutes and reported that the fire was already out, with little damage done to the apartment.

Assistant Chief Rusty Griffith reported that there was no damage to other units in the complex, and as firefighters were leaving, maintenance personnel were already cleaning and preparing the apartment to be re-occupied. Had it not been for the fire sprinkler system, this fire could easily have spread and risked the lives of both residents and firefighters. In addition to the fire sprinkler and alarm systems, openings in attics and between floors are sealed to keep fire from spreading as quickly as it does in older complexes built prior to the adoption of a County fire code.

The Montgomery County Fire Code is based on the International Fire Code, a modern code used throughout the country. The County Fire Code is nearly identical to the City of Conroe code and codes adopted in nearby cities and in Harris County, offering developers a common standard for new building design and construction throughout the area.

Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams commented, “Not only are we improving safety for residents, we are making sure these buildings are safer for our firefighters, now and in the future.”

 

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