It was a dramatic demonstration of how fire sprinklers save lives. Two mockups of dorm rooms were set up on a service drive next to the Busch Campus Center, one equipped with a single sprinkler head, the other without.
The mock dorm room without the sprinkler became engulfed in flames a few minutes after firefighters ignited a wastebasket full of paper, simulating what might happen if a cigarette, candle or spark landed in the basket. Firefighters from Piscataway’s River Road Fire Company, participating in the demonstration, extinguished the conflagration after three minutes.
In the room with the sprinkler head, water started flowing less than a minute after the fire ignited. Firefighters were able to pull the smoldering wastebasket out of the room and wet it down. Other than some smoke and water, the contents of the mock room remained unburned.
“New Jersey is the first state to require dorms to be fully sprinklered,” said Dave Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, a trade association. “Most states do not require it, but a lot are getting on board now.” He recalled the Seton Hall dorm fire of 2000 where three students lost their lives as the event that prodded New Jersey to act.