Everything you own, destroyed in a fire is something no homeowner ever wants to experience, but it can happen in an instant.
The Las Vegas valley is no stranger to large fires like the one that killed 85 people at the MGM Grand in 1980. Or the one at the Las Vegas Hilton that killed eight people the following year.
The devastation caused by both of those hotel fires forced changes in fire codes across the country, requiring sprinkler systems to help prevent deadly flames from spreading.
When it comes to homes, the main line of defense remains to be smoke detectors, but that could soon change in the city of Las Vegas.
The addition of fire sprinklers increases the chances of surviving a house fire by 97 percent. It also drastically reduces injuries to firefighters.
“Simply put, this is our work,” said Eric Litmann, the president of Las Vegas Firefighter Local 1285.
About four years ago the idea of having automatic fire sprinklers built in all new homes in the city of Las Vegas was a topic that was brought up.
Many questioned if this was necessary for residential homes, along with what the cost would be. Local firefighters strongly support the ordinance.
“House fires are the structures that my members and members across this country are killed in the most every day in this country,” Litmann said.
According to firefighters, sprinklers increases life safety of 600 firefighters on three shifts that respond to house fires every day within the city limits.
The new ordinance will apply to new homes less than 5,000 square feet. The only concern council members face, are inspections delaying projects.
“We will develop metrics that will compare our speed at which we are doing these inspections against nonsprinkler properties to make sure we are not holding them up,” said Scott Adams, Las Vegas City Manager.
The conditions of the ordinance is to do it all in a six month trial period.
“We do commit, and it actually is written in our policy that inspections shall be done at the time requested not holdovers, and our folks commit to do that,” said Willie Mcdonald, city fire chief.
“We can handle this workload without any additional resources and without any increase financial impact to our department,” Litmann said.
Although the sprinklers would add additional costs to homeowners, firefighters say the benefits over time will outweigh the additional cost.