Earlier this week, the Madison Fire Department was faced with an incredible challenge: a report of a fire in the theatre at the Memorial Union. Upon arrival, the first responding units found a significant amount of smoke and fire in the walls and attic of the theatre, which was under construction. The firefighters did a tremendous job identifying what was burning, and acting in an incredibly fast manner to ensure the damage from the smoke and fire was kept to a minimum. The rapid spread of flame and smoke--coupled with the fact that the building was under construction--created a very dangerous situation in which numerous lives could have been in jeopardy, not to mention the possibility of losing a favorite landmark.
The fast action of the units on scene, combined with great information from the construction crews and the investment in public safety resources made by this city, all played huge roles in the positive outcome. Every Madisonian has stories to tell of their time at the Memorial Union. It is truly a "gem" of the city. It is hard to imagine losing such a cornerstone of Madison's social life. Our thanks go to the crews who worked very hard to save our "gem" on Monday morning!
Monday's fire serves as a reminder of the importance of proactively protecting our "gems" of the City of Madison. As we look to the future, it is critical that the city strives to protect our buildings with fire sprinkler systems, which bring another layer of protection in helping save lives and property around the city. Fire sprinklers react quickly to a fire and can often have the fire extinguished in the time it takes for a fire crew to arrive on scene. Fire sprinklers also help with business continuity, which is so important, especially in these economic times. With some minor cleanup, a business can be back up and running in just a day or two.
The City of Madison Fire Department has made it a top priority to identify our city "gems" and attempt to convince the property owners to install fire sprinkler systems to reduce the risk of loss. There are many buildings in the city that are not sprinklered; however, they could be retrofitted easily, and with proper insurance credits, could pay for themselves in just a few years. There will be more to come; just keep in mind that fire sprinklers do make a huge difference!