PLATTSMOUTH – Dozens of people last Saturday saw firsthand the importance of having smoke detectors and fire sprinklers in the home.

The Plattsmouth Volunteer Fire Department held a demonstration downtown showing how a fire can spread within minutes in a room without sprinklers, compared to an identical fire in a room having them.

“The purpose was about Christmas safety and to show how fast a fire can start,” said Fire Chief Mike Wilson.

The demonstration on a mobile unit, seen by some 70 people, featured two simulated living rooms, each with a Christmas tree. One of the rooms had fire sprinklers on its ceiling, the other did not.

Within five minutes or so after a fire was lit, the room without the sprinklers became fully engulfed in flames and dangerous smoke.

Within seconds after its fire was lit, the other room had its sprinklers activated with the flames and smoke under control.

To those who fear sprinklers could create water damage to the home, Bill Dudek, assistant chief, said, “Water damage is easier to clean up than fire damage.”

People should get out of their home as soon as possible if they sense smoke or fire, and stay outside, Dudek said.

There should always be two ways out of the house, he added.

And, everyone should close their bedroom doors when sleeping at night.

“Closed doors make a barrier for smoke coming in,” Wilson said.

Dudek said, “Most people die from smoke inhalation, not from the fire.”

The demonstration was held on the city parking lot behind the Plaza on Fourth Street as part of Small Business Day. Crowds visiting the downtown section were able to view it while out shopping.

“It’s public relations,” Wilson said.

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