Two summers ago, Grand Junction Fire Department spokesperson Ellis Thompson-Ellis witnessed firsthand the impact closing interior doors can have in a house fire.
She responded to a fire at a neighborhood home that started just as a family was sitting down for dinner. They heard an explosion from their garage and when one of them opened the garage door, they saw smoke billowing. They all were able to immediately evacuate the house. The door to the garage, however, was left opened.
By the time Thompson entered the home, everything from the living room to the kitchen had sustained extensive smoke damage, except for one room — the only room that had its door closed.
Thompson-Ellis still remembers walking through a soot- covered interior and opening one of the bedroom doors to find a pink, princess-themed room perfectly intact.
According to Fire Department spokesman Dirk Clingman, closing bedroom doors can make the difference in saving lives and thousands of dollars in property damage in the event of a house fire.
Research conducted by UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute shows that in a home fire, a closed door can be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames. Because of modern construction and architecture, including synthetic furnishing, open floor plans and lightweight construction, house fires tend to accelerate faster than ever before. Forty years ago, residents had an average of 17 minutes to escape a burning home after a smoke alarm sounded, but today that number averages closer to 3 minutes, according to the UL FSRI.
Thompson-Ellis said closing doors in your home, especially before you go to sleep, is a relatively new concept Fire Departments across the country have been introducing.
Last month, they all got a little more incentive to do so.
In a lighthearted competition, departments across the country produced and submitted their most compelling and convincing video message on the subject.
The video with the most votes could win that department up to $25,000 toward local fire safety education.
Of the 29 videos submitted, two were produced by the Grand Junction Fire Department.
The eight videos with the most votes will go to the next round, in which a panel will rank the finalists.
Grand prize is $25,000; the runner-up and second runner-up will receive $15,000 and $10,000, respectively; and five additional winners receive $5,000, the department said.
With 245 votes as of Tuesday, GJFD's "Knock Knock" video sat at 15th in the most voted for. Their second video, "Happily Ever After," is in 20th place.
Voting takes place through Sept. 15.