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Sprinkler system, staff training save the day at rest home
Media Release August 30, 2000
A blaze in a Timaru rest home early this morning came to nothing thanks to a sprinkler system and the superb actions of staff.

The Fire Service says the fire, which started in a commercial drier in the laundry, could have led to tragedy had the rest home not had a sprinkler system, or such well-trained staff.

Fire safety officer Kevin Collins says the staff did everything right, from isolating the fire, to evacuating the 40 residents. The sprinkler system put the blaze out before it could spread beyond the laundry, leaving firefighters to control residual flames within the drier bowl itself.

The fire was noticed by a staff member at 3.48 am. She immediately shut the laundry door, confining the fire to that room. She activated the nearest manual fire alarm which alerted the Fire Service communications centre. At the same time, the bells rang within the rest home. The woman advised the two other staff members on duty, made a 111 call to confirm the fire type and location. Then the three staff members evacuated the residents.

Two fire crews from Timaru arrived in under five minutes, and while one dealt with what remained of the fire, the other helped with the evacuation. Thanks to the sprinkler system, the fire resulted in just minor damage to the laundry.

“The Fire Service strongly recommends sprinkler systems complying with NZ Standard 4541 are installed in rest homes.”

He says the Fire Service has worked closely with the rest home staff for some time on fire safety training and procedures, with regular trial evacuations.

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