A fire that could have spread through a Parker apartment building was held in check by a sprinkler system that had been repaired hours earlier.

“It was a perfect storm that ended with a sprinkle, well, with a sprinkler head activating,” says South Metro Fire Marshal Kevin Milan, following the emergency response by firefighters.

During required annual testing of fire prevention systems at the Cherrywood Apartments in Parker, a fire protection contractor found some problems with the system. Upon being notified of the issues, South Metro inspectors took steps to ensure the safety of residents by requiring that the problems be fixed.

On Jan. 26, mere hours after the issued had been resolved and the fire protection system passed inspection, South Metro crews responded to a water flow alarm at the complex. A water flow alarm indicates a sprinkler head has activated. The smoldering remains of a fire were found in the laundry room of a vacant apartment, where one sprinkler head had activated.

“This fire illustrates how the fire code, working fire protection equipment, and a quick response from fire fighters, combine to protect lives and property,” Milan said.

The accidental fire started in a ceiling fan and was initially out of reach of the sprinkler system. As the fire grew, it activated the sprinkler, which set off the alarm and got the fire department on scene to investigate and fully extinguish the fire. 

“Fire sprinklers are like having fire fighters in house, 24/7,” Milan said.

The value of sprinklers was proven again on Feb. 21 at a restaurant in Lone Tree. A fire extinguisher system in the hood above the stove had failed to contain a serious grease fire. Two sprinkler heads activated and the fire was out shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, the manager had called 911 and firefighters arrived to ensure the fire was out. While it was an inconvenience to customers and employees, no one was hurt and the restaurant is open again. An uncontrolled fire would have caused damaged that would have taken weeks, even months, to repair.

South Metro Fire Rescue Authority inspectors regularly visit commercial buildings to make sure the fire code is being followed and fire protection systems are working.