Members of various historic preservation committees gathered at the Rome Floyd County Fire Department's training division on North Avenue where they learned different ways to keep the historic buildings in their communities safe from fires. 

Members of the Statewide Historic Preservation Conference, which have been meeting in Rome for the past few days, were there to witness just how fast an older home can go up in flames.

The short class was a result of a fire that burned down the historic home at 313 Fourth Ave. in January, Fire Marshal Mary Catherine Chewning said. The fire department responded quickly but could not save the home, which was being remodeled at the time, from being gutted by the fire.

She offered different ways to protect the historic buildings and houses from fires varying from safe practices to installing a sprinkler system.

"Sprinkler systems pay for themselves in insurance costs," Chewning said.

The fire marshal showed several videos of how a fire suppression system can put out fires way before the fire department arrives. She also used a local business as an example who had a truck catch fire early in the morning but the building did not catch thanks to a sprinkler system. 

The cause of the fire was eventually ruled as undetermined due to the extensive fire damage.

Causes of fire in older homes could come from several factors - overloaded circuits, faulty wiring or use of extension cords.

"Do not use extension cords in your homes," Chewning said. "They are only meant to be used for 90-days (consistently)."

After the fire marshal's presentation, conference members walked outside where fire fighters lit different types of paneling on fire. The two demonstrations exhibited older building material - such as older wooden and vinyl siding, to newer materials such as cement board and new cedar boards. 

The older wooden siding was from an Avenue A built in 1910 which was undergoing renovations. Up against newer siding it did not last as long with the same being said for the vinyl siding. 

The demonstration was the final piece of the three day conference Brittany Griffin, a Rome planning department employee who also works with the local Historic Preservation Commission, said. She added she hopes to have a similar demonstration nest year but on a larger scale. 

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