Mesa Fire Department says newer homes burn faster than older homes, offer tips to stay safe

MESA, AZ - Mesa Fire Department officials say if newer homes catch on fire, they’ll burn much faster than older homes.

Fire Marshal Rich Kochanski has been on the job for years. He knows all too well how fast newer homes can burn.

"The materials are lighter. They burn faster,” Kochanski said. "They're using wood that is a lot thinner. A lot of it is pressed board, particle board with glues. So we've had had to change our style of fighting fires."

Some might think older homes would be more susceptible to fire but Kochanski said that’s not so.  

"Older homes have much larger timber that they were built with. The material is stronger. The material is denser. In fact-we know when we do fight fire in an older structure-that we've got a little bit more time and the roof will hold us longer,” Kochanski mentioned.

He added that fire departments have been pushing for mandatory sprinklers in every home for years.

But in 2009, a state-wide ordinance was passed stating no city or town could mandate sprinklers.

Kochanski said there’s not much fire service can do now.

Scottsdale is the only city with a sprinkler ordinance that was grandfathered in.

Kochanski said at first, builders didn't want smoke detectors because of the added costs but he's hoping sprinklers will become the norm in the future.

He suggests installing sprinklers if you can.

He said that could cost anywhere from $1.50 to $2 per square foot. Plus you may also qualify for a discount on home owners insurance.

If that's not in the budget having a few extra fire extinguishers around the house is useful.

Fire officials stress that calling 911 should be your first option if a fire breaks out.

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