Overland Park firefighters raced to the scene of a reported fire in an apartment complex only to find their work had already been done — automatically.
The stovetop fire at The Lodge of Overland Park apartments was snuffed out by a simple device attached inside the range hood.
The range hood fire extinguishers, about the size of a food can, are fastened by magnets inside the hood over the range. When activated by a flame, they release a powder similar to that in a canister fire extinguisher.
“The Fire Department did not put one drop of water on the stove,” said Leslie Scott, property manager at the complex. “It was fully extinguished.”
That was a relief not only to the management but to the occupants of the apartment at 106th and Foster streets on Sunday evening. The Fire Department saw it as an educational opportunity.
“Overland Park Fire has been pushing awareness of these devices for several years, even securing a grant to provide them for high-risk residents,” the department said in a statement. “This is the first episode we’ve seen where someone has installed them on their own and had a successful deployment.”
In Sunday’s case, the range hood was ruined and the cabinets and walls were blackened. But that was scant damage compared to what could have happened if the fire had spread beyond the stove and into adjacent apartments.
Apartment complex manager Resource Residential placed two suppressors, which cost about $17 each, over the stove in each of the 548 units. The company considers that a good investment.
Scott said an average apartment fire used to cause about $100,000 in damage, but with range hood fire suppressors, that figure is about $2,500.
“One life lost — there’s no way to put a dollar amount on that,” she said. “In multifamily housing, one person with a lapse in judgment can be devastating.”
Lt. Andrew Grove, who was among the first firefighters responding to Sunday’s incident, said cooking fires are the most common calls his department gets.
He said range hood fire suppressors are safety tools like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. The devices can be purchased online.
“This is something that’s going to stop a fire,” Grove said.