Automatic Fire Sprinklers

NOTICE:

  • From time to time “do-it-yourself” articles or kits appear that encourage consumers to install their own automatic fire sprinkler systems.
  • The American Fire Sprinkler Association STRONGLY DISCOURAGES the installation of fire sprinkler systems by people who have not been trained in the proper installation of fire sprinklers.
  • Fire sprinklers should always be installed in accordance with standards of the National Fire Protection Association using approved and/or listed materials. Fire sprinklers protect lives and property.
  • To ensure proper design and operation, always seek a trained and competent contractor.

The Facts

  • Automatic fire sprinklers have been in use in the U.S. since 1874.

  • Fire sprinklers are widely recognized as the single most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in their early stages – before they can cause severe injury to people and damage to property.

  • When one fire sprinkler head goes off to fight a fire the entire sprinkler system does NOT activate. Sprinklers react to temperatures in individual rooms.

  • The chances of a fire sprinkler accidentally going off are extremely remote.

  • Installation of fire sprinklers can provide discounts on insurance premiums.

  • The installation of fire sprinklers in new residential construction is estimated to make up around 1% of the total building cost. (Similar to the cost of new carpet)

  • New homes burn eight times faster than older homes, leaving families less time to get out alive. Seconds count all the more during a house fire because of a drastic decrease in the time a family has to safely escape. Fire sprinklers provide valuable time to escape a fire. The National Fire Academy (NFA), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the U.S. Fire Administration (UFSA) all recommend fire sprinkler systems for new residential construction (Source).

  •  Senior citizens and children under the age of 5 have the greatest risk of fire death. Sprinklers protect these most vulnerable populations who may not have the physical or cognitive ability to escape a burning building (Source).

  • A single sprinkler controls a home fire 90 percent of the time, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), saving a majority of a home’s possessions. Also, according to the non-profit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, the average fire loss in a house with a sprinkler system is $2,166 as opposed to $45,019 in a home without the protection. Sprinkler systems reduce fire damage by up to 97 percent (Source).

  • A Harris International Interactive poll showed almost two-thirds of U.S. homeowners believe a sprinkler system increases a home’s value. Forty-five percent of respondents said a sprinklered home is more desirable than one without the system. Also, 38 percent of homeowners say they would be more likely to purchase a new home with sprinklers than without (Source).

  • For those who are concerned about the environment, consider this: sprinklers reduce the amount of water used to fight a fire by up to 90 percent as well as water and air pollution generated by a fire (Source).

  • Contrary to what you may see in television sitcoms, a home sprinkler system will not activate and spray water throughout the house if someone lights a cigar or candle. Sprinklers are not activated by smoke or smoke alarms. Only high heat (135 to 165 degrees F of an early house fire) will set one off and then only the sprinkler closest to the fire (Source).

  • Fire sprinklers immediately respond to a fire while it is still small, controlling the spread of deadly heat, flames and toxic smoke – whether or not the occupants have appropriately responded to the signaling smoke alarm. Fire sprinklers make up for human error, and they provide a life-saving cushion for a time-consuming escape (Source).

  • If you have a reported fire in your home, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present (Source).

  • The cost of installing home fire sprinklers averages $1.35 per sprinklered square foot for new construction, according to a Home Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Source).

  • Fire sprinklers fit most any decor and can be very unobtrusive. Newer fire sprinkler models can be mounted flush with walls or ceilings, or concealed behind decorative covers.


The National Fire Protection Association outlines several major strategies that are key to reductions in fire losses and especially in home fire deaths, which are 78.3% of the total fire deaths. 

They are:

  • More, and more widespread, public fire safety education on how to prevent fires and how to avoid serious injury or death if fire occurs.

  • Residential fire safety initiatives remain the key to reductions in the overall fire death toll.

  • Wider use and proper maintenance of smoke detectors, coupled with practiced home escape plans.

  • Wider use of residential sprinklers.

  • Additional efforts to make home products more fire-safe, such as less fire-prone cigarettes and child-resistant lighters.

  • Addressing the special protection needs of high-risk groups, such as the young, older adults and the poor.

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