Firefighters responding to last week's for the first time deployed a grenade-like device that released a chemical agent designed to help squash the flames.
To start the process of getting the fire under control the Setauket Fire Department used a device called "FIT-5," which has since been renamed the "Ara Safety Pro," that spreads a potassium-based condensed aerosol to interrupt the chemical chain reaction and suppress fire.
"If you deploy it and throw it into an enclosed fire, what it will do is dampen things down, make it more tenable to go in," Larry Hall, Setauket FD's public information officer, said at the scene of the fire.
According to fire officials, the probable cause of the fire was a faulty dehumidifier in an enclosed space.
Hall said while two devices was deployed during the response, only one actually released the chemical, and the extent of its effectiveness was inconclusive. "It was behind a couple of closed doors in a back area of the basement," he said. "There’s a good chance they tossed them in a main room, so the chemical would have had to seep under the doors."
Valued at $995 each, the original version of the Ara Safety Pro – which is what was used by the Setauket Fire Department – has been around for about five years now, according to its manufacturer, Vancouver-based Ara Safety Inc.
Several other fire departments on Long Island, including Centereach, Hauppauge and Mount Sinai, have also used the device in putting out fires.
According to a product testimonial, in 2009, the Centereach Fire Department deployed one to control a garage fire in an abandoned house. Then-chief Joseph Losquadro said: "[Ara's device] slowed the progress of the fire significantly; when my first due engine arrived there was just some interior work, instead of a complete surround and drown.”
Hall said the Setauket Fire Department has four more of the devices and has plans to replace the two that were used last week.