A recent, unattended kitchen fire was extinguished before firefighters arrived on scene thanks to a fire suppression/sprinkler system partly made possible by a city grant. The fire in the 100 block of North Main St. could have been a devastating incident within downtown Salisbury.
Six years ago, the City funded incentives to help developers with fire protection costs in downtown apartments in the Municipal Service District (MSD).
“Part of Salisbury’s’ genius’ is it downtown,” explained Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell. “Salisbury is often recognized for our commitment to historic preservation. As downtown living began to rise in popularity years ago, we understood historic buildings are not preserved if they are not protected. We also know sprinklers save lives. Thankfully, City Council agreed.”
Salisbury City Council adopted a fire suppression grant program to assist with downtown revitalization. The grants covers 50% of sprinkler installation costs, up to $25,000. The developer of the Bell Building, the location of the most recent fire, took advantage of the grant program.
“One sprinkler head was able to extinguish the fire before it spread and before any person or firefighter showed up,” added Chief Parnell. “While there was some water damage, the more important thing is there was no loss of life or mass property damage.”
It was a different outcome than the fire in the former O.O. Rufty building at 100 E. Innes St. No lives were lost, however, the 2015 fire gutted the upper-level apartment, and eventually shuttered the first-floor retail business downstairs. No fire protection system was present in the building at that time.
“Now sprinklers are required in apartments above commercial space, and the grant helps with those installation costs, encouraging further downtown residential development,” said Chief Parnell.