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Apartment Fire Demonstrates Benefits of Sprinkler Systems, Cortez Fire Chief Says

Brandon Leon
Creative Commons

A fire that broke out late Tuesday morning in the Brubaker Apartments in Cortez was quickly snuffed by the complex’s sprinkler system, and Cortez Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde says that demonstrates the effectiveness of such systems.

Vandevoorde says a woman in one apartment was melting wax in a pan when it caught on fire. When she stuck it under the faucet, the flames jumped all over, setting off the kitchen sprinkler. While the woman fled with her two young children, the water doused the fire before it could spread. Vandevoorde reports there was minor water damage and electricity had to be temporarily cut to two apartments below, but a more serious situation was averted. He says he wishes sprinkler systems were more widespread because there has never been a reported fire-related death in a building with such a device. Unfortunately, he says, some builders deliberately reduce a commercial structure’s square footage to get around the city’s requirement for having a sprinkler system, and many other buildings are grandfathered. Montezuma County does not have a universal fire code.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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