'It buys time': Rural fire officials remind homeowners about the importance of sprinklers

Fire officials say sprinkler systems buy time for firefighters and save lives. Photo by Audrey Weil.

EUGENE, Ore. -- Fire officials say for rural communities, one of the best things homeowners can do is install sprinkler systems.

They say sprinklers can prevent total destruction, and most importantly, buy time for the firefighters.

"If a fire starts, that little sprinkler head is going to contain it until somebody gets there," Lane Fire Authority Fire Marshal Dean Chappell said.

Firefighting is a race against the clock from the start and in rural areas, there can be plenty of time consuming obstacles.

"To get down a narrow road, to get out, is it ten minutes out of town? 15 minutes out of town? Is it 20 mile an hour curves?" Chappell said.

So while the trucks and water tenders are on their way, the sprinklers get a head start.

"Sprinkler systems are designed to contain," he said. "Sometimes they'll put it out but it's mainly to contain the fire."

Chappell says it's well worth it because the water damage from these is a lot easier to clean up than the alternative.

There's no requirement in Oregon for home fire sprinklers.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, if you install them while you're building a home, it's usually $1.35 per square foot.

This video from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition shows the difference between a living room fire with a sprinkler installed and one without.

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