Maui News

VIDEO: Effectiveness of Sprinklers Shine at Maui Arson Conference

September 21, 2011, 3:11 PM HST
* Updated September 22, 10:02 AM
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By Wendy Osher

[flashvideo file= /] Arson investigators sparked a fire at the upper parking lot of the Makena Beach Resort today to demonstrate the effectiveness of residential fire sprinklers.

“We’ve done a great job at reducing fire death in just about every other aspect of our community,” said Kapono Supplebeen, Public Education Officer with the Maui Fire Prevention Bureau.

“We’ve done a good job in our commercial facilities, and our schools; but 80% of the people who die in fires–approximately 3,000 people die every year in fires–80% of them die in residential or home fires,” said Stupplebeen, who noted that we have the technology to reduce those numbers.

Two rooms were constructed for the demonstration to show the speed and extent of a fire in an unprotected structure, versus one equipped with sprinklers.

Non-sprinklered vs sprinklered structure, live fire demonstration. Photo by Wendy Osher.


“I’d take water damage any day and have my personal items still in there, and my family still alive,” said Jamie Novak, a 28-year veteran fire investigator from St. Paul Minnesota.

MFD Fire Sprinkler Demonstration. Photo by Wendy Osher.


Novak also served as a guest speaker at the International Association of Arson Investigators Hawaii Chapter Conference held this week on Maui.  The demonstration, which was held at the conclusion of the conference, served as an educational opportunity for both county law makers and residents on Maui.

“We are hoping for some legislation either through the state or county to have sprinklers in one- and tw0-family dwellings,” said Maui Fire Chief Jeff Murray.

Chiefs across the state have been working together as well as with their own fire prevention bureaus and county codes to effect change in their respective areas.


While arson was identified as the cause of a fire earlier this month at an office in Wailuku, sprinklers, fire officials say, saved the building from further damage.

Fire Education Officer, Kapono Stupplebeen with the MFD Prevention Bureau holds the charred remains of a surfboard that was pulled from an earlier burn demonstration which helped arson investigators learn more about effects and dangers of aerosol containers found in structure fires. Photo by Wendy Osher.

MFD Fire Sprinkler Demonstration. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The fire at the back of the Main Street Promenade Building in Wailuku caused an estimated $250,000 in damage to the Maui/Molokai Drug Court office.

Authorities say the fire damage would have been more extensive if the building had not been protected by fire sprinklers.

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