The Dakine showroom, at 408 Columbia Ave., suffered a fire Saturday.
Fire Chief Devon Wells said in a press release that the fire department was never summoned and an active fire sprinkler head continued to operate all night.
Fire crews were called Sunday at approximately 8 a.m. to investigate a fire that was discovered that morning. Upon arrival, fire crews found a fire fully extinguished by a single fire sprinkler in the Dakine showroom.
The fire was confined to a small portion of one wall, with minor smoke damage to the remaining products in the show room. However, water damage from the operating fire sprinkler had reached throughout the first floor of the Dakine business and downstairs to the inventory warehouse of Full Sail Brewing Company, which owns the building.
A large ceiling-mounted electric heater was found to be the cause, according to Wells and Fire Marshal Peter Mackwell, who investigated.
They said an electrical failure of one of the heating elements caused a shower of sparks and molten aluminum to fall down onto the backpacks and garments on the showroom walls below, starting the fire.
“Fire sprinklers saved this building,” Wells said. “The fire was quickly put out and fire damage was kept to a minimum.” However, it is estimated that the water damage may cost more than $300,000 to repair.
“Even though the sprinkler system worked correctly, the fire alarm system did not initiate an emergency call, so we were never notified,” said Wells.
“We would have been on scene in five minutes, stopping the water flow and limiting the damage to the show room.”
Dakine and Full Sail officials could not be reached for comment.
Fire sprinkler systems are connected to the building alarm system so when a water flow is detected, the alarm system sounds, simultaneously alerting the alarm monitoring company that there is a potential problem.
The alarm company then notifies the 9-1-1 center, who send the fire department. By national standards, this notification system works in less than five minutes from the time alarm activation occurs.
During the investigation, Mackwell noted that the alarm panel had received notification from the sprinkler system that there was a flow detected. However, the system did not finish the process and the sprinkler head continued to flood approximately 30 gallons per minute for almost 12 hours.
“We are huge proponents of fire sprinklers in all buildings, including homes,” said Wells. “It’s unfortunate that the alarm system didn’t call us immediately. We could have helped prevent much more of this damage from occurring.”
Mackwell reminds all businesses with sprinklers and alarm systems to have their systems checked and tested regularly.
“The systems were tested in December 2012 and were functioning correctly then,” he said. “Unfortunately, when an emergency happened, it didn’t perform as designed.”
Hood River Fire & EMS asks that anyone with questions regarding the function or testing of their fire sprinklers or fire alarm systems contact Mackwell.