(Orange City) — Fire officials and insurance inspectors attended a fire investigation seminar held Wednesday at Orange City. The program was put on by Grinnell Mutual Insurance, and its purpose was to help fire fighters and insurance claims officials get a better idea of how fire may start, as well as a
burn pattern of fires, and to look at ways homeowners and businesses may be able to incorporate fire prevention measures to better protect their property against fire-related losses. Trace Lawless helped direct the program. He is a fire investigation specialist with Grinnell Mutual and has more than 30 years of experience. Grinnell Mutual featured six simulated rooms from a home which were set on fire.
Lawless says they had set up two identical living rooms, with the only difference was one was equipped with a sprinkler system.
Following the demonstration, Lawless asked the attending insurance officials if they would rather pay a claim from fire and smoke damage, or from water damage.
A bedroom was set on fire using a flammable liquid. Lawless says it was to assist fire investigators and insurance companies to see the difference of burn patterns between an accidental fire and one that was intentionally set using flammable liquids.
Next up was a shop scene, which would be common to see in a basement or a garage setting. The room cell had plastic shelving, instead of metal shelving, and was equipped with shop lights and even wood stains and polyurethane wood finishing
products. Lawless says he wanted the attending officials to see how quickly the plastic would melt under a fire scenario. He says having those oil-based products inside a metal cabinet, instead of setting on plastic shelving can help contain a fire.
The final fire demonstration cell featured different types of wallboard showing officials that some products are able to with stand fire better than other products.
In each of the fire demonstrations, officials had the opportunity to view a television monitor showing the increasing temperature of three different points within the room. Temperatures were monitored at the floor level, mid-way up a vertical wall, and at the ceiling level. A digital stop clock was also
featured, showing fire and insurance officials just how quickly a fire can spread. In each instance, within about 30 seconds to 2 minutes, the room would be totally engulfed in flames.
Two members of the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department participated in the fire inspection seminar. Orange City Fire Chief Denny Vander Wel says such seminars are important, especially for new members of a fire department.
As was demonstrated during the fire seminar, the Orange City fire chief is a big believer in having residential homes be equipped with sprinkler systems.