ORLAND PARK, IL (June 3, 2019) – Home fires become deadly in just two minutes or less. Survival depends on being able to escape, literally in seconds. For Noah Currier, a quadriplegic, that’s a terrifying reality.
“It takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, into my wheelchair and outside,” he explains. And beyond his personal challenge, Currier’s house is more than a home. He runs weekly clinics out of it for the Oscar Mike Foundation in Poplar Grove, Illinois. He founded the foundation to help injured veterans get involved in adaptive sports.
Currier’s well-founded fear of fire – for himself and for others who visit his home – was completely eased recently when producers for the television show Designing Spaces heard that his home needed a remodel, and stepped up to make sure it would be protected with residential fire sprinklers.
Designing Spaces is a home improvement show that airs on Lifetime. The production team travels across the country to remodel, redecorate, and redesign homes. The Oscar Mike Foundation retrofit project made perfect sense for the team – an important mission with a vulnerable population. Those most at risk from home fire injury and death include people with disabilities, older adults and young children. Fire sprinklers protect all occupants, but they are especially beneficial in homes with people who cannot escape quickly.
Currier’s fire sprinkler system was donated through a combined effort of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) and the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB). United States Alliance Fire Protection (USAFP) was the fire sprinkler contractor that worked with the Designing Spaces team to design and retrofit the system in accordance with code requirements. USAFP President, Chad Huennekens, was interviewed and will appear in the segment talking about home fire sprinklers, the project, and how it will protect people in the home. The show featuring the fire sprinkler installation at the Oscar Mike Foundation is scheduled to air June 6, at 6:30 am CT on Lifetime. It is a 3-part series with USAFP included in the first segment. The episode will also be available online at https://designingspaces.tv/.
Currier is doubly relieved. Now his home, the Foundation, and the veterans he serves are protected if fire breaks out. He understands better than most how quickly a house fire can become deadly. “My dad was housesitting for his brother when the house caught on fire,” he says. “He was in the basement, and the fire started upstairs. He was severely burned, suffered smoke inhalation, and was in the hospital for a while. The home was lost.”
In a home fire, only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates, in response to the high heat of the flames (135˚-165˚F). The sprinkler works automatically to prevent the fire from spreading or to extinguish it. That provides lifesaving time to allow everyone in the home to safely escape while the fire department arrives. National model codes require home fire sprinklers in new construction.
A veteran himself, Currier’s foundation offers activities ranging from adaptive sports programs to events and other experiences. “We find that when you’re doing something active, you don’t think about the disability,” he said.
The Oscar Mike Compound is a 9,000 square-foot, fully accessible home. More than a dozen people with disabilities may be in the home at one time during activities.
“We’re really grateful for the support,” Currier said. “We’ve already had a few weeks of clinics come in since the remodel, and everyone is loving it. The home is going to be used to serve injured veterans for a long time.”