Illinois Middle School Saved by Fire Sprinklers

Fire Department:  Sprinklers 'Saved Arbor Park School from Burning Down'

By:  Lauren Traut, OakForest Patch

A few halls of Arbor Park Middle School are flooded, and the stench of smoke lingers-but it could have been so much worse.

An old radio or electronic device might have been the cause of a Friday night fire, and fire officials said if not for the sprinkler system, the school might not have been standing afterward.

"If it wasn't for the building's sprinkler system, this place would still be burning," said Oak Forest Fire Lieutenant Jack Janozik.

No students were present at the time of the fire, which started in a document storage room in the northwest corner of the building around 5:30 p.m. Firefighters trudged through hallways filled with thick, black smoke to deactivate the sprinklers. Custodians were inside the school at the time of the fire, but all evacuated safely. Tinley Park, Matteson, Orland Park, Crestwood and Posen fire departments all helped out on the scene.

An investigator will determine the official cause of the fire, but it appears to have started near a radio set on top of a plastic mat.

The school's sprinkler system was essential in snuffing out the flames, and saving the thousands of documents stored in the room.

"That saved this building from burning down," Janozik said.

Tags:  fire sprinklers, school fire, school fire sprinkler, school fire protection, middle school fire, Illinois school fire protection