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Demonstration shows fire 'flash over' hard to survive

By Dwayne Parker, Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 08 2012 05:57:06 PM CST

Reading fire officials want to put people on alert over a phenomena.

READING, Pa. -

Fire officials want to put people on alert over a phenomena called a flash over.

Flash overs -- flames that shoot horizontally and vertically across a room like firecrackers -- are next to impossible to survive, officials said.

"When it goes to flash over, we cannot survive that in our full gear," said Todd Iaeger, Reading fire marshal. "And if we can, it's only by the grace of God that we just so happen to be near a door or a window."

At a demonstration held at the Berks County Fire Training Center, a makeshift room filled with furniture was set on fire. In just under three-and-a-half minutes, the space was engulfed in flames. The temperature was at least 1900 degrees, officials said.

Stuffed furniture and plastics make flash overs more likely.

"Furniture, plastics, generate tremendous heat release and it driving these rooms to flash over where nobody can survive that," said Iaeger.

With layoffs and fewer firefighters in the Reading Fire Department, officials said tools like sprinklers and fire detectors could save more lives.

"Smoke detectors save lives," said Iaeger. "Sprinklers are a phenomenal tool, and a necessary and needed tool."