A fire at a California school showed the importance of having a complete, working fire wall in conjunction with active fire protection.  On Wednesday March 15 around 6 am, a ventilation fan in the boy’s bathroom of the school created an electrical fire that spread through the insulation above the ceiling.

 

The fire spread from the bathroom into the office next to it by going through the vents in the office, but luckily there was a school fire wall separating these burning rooms from the rest of the building, and damage was contained to these areas.  Fire crews were able to put the fire out after about half an hour, and move files and computers from the office before they were damaged by the flames or water.   Unfortunately, the ceiling beams that were involved in the fire have been structurally damaged, and these rooms will need reconstruction.  This is still much better than having to rebuild an entire school!

 

One issue that led to this fire’s damage was that it was above the ceiling, but the only smoke alarms were on the other side of the ceiling, which meant that the alarms were never alerted to the presence of the fire.  The call to the fire department about the fire came from a building down the road, and not from the automated alarm system.  This means the fire had been burning for a significant length of time before the fire department was even made aware of it.  This shows why having above ceiling inspections regularly performed is such a good idea, and why firestop inspections are required by the NFPA.