It is the official position of the U.S. Fire Administration that all Americans should be protected against death, injury, and property loss resulting from fire in their residences. All homes should be equipped with smoke alarms and automatic fire sprinklers, and families should prepare and practice emergency escape plans.
Residential Sprinkler Myths and Facts
Have you ever heard someone say "If one sprinkler head goes off, they all go off." or "The sprinklers may go off accidentally."? Read the facts behind these myths about residential sprinklers.
Schools, office buildings, factories, and other commercial buildings have benefited from fire protection sprinkler systems for over a century. To prevent investments in buildings and machinery, the textile mills in New England began using sprinkler systems over 100 years ago following a series of devastating fires which claimed many lives and destroyed entire businesses.
But what about our homes? Although we protect our businesses from fire, what actions do we take to protect our families, our homes, and our possessions from fire? Millions of Americans have installed smoke alarms in their homes in the past few decades, but a smoke alarm can only alert the occupants to a fire in the house ... it cannot contain or extinguish a fire. Residential sprinkler systems can!
Fires in residences have taken a high toll of life and property. In 2007 there were:
Source: National Fire Protection Association Fire Loss in the U.S. 2007.
Studies by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's United States Fire Administration indicate that the installation of residential fire sprinkler systems could have saved thousands of lives; prevented a large portion of those injuries; and eliminated hundreds of millions of dollars in property losses.
Using quick response sprinklers and approved piping, homes can be built or even retrofitted to include low-cost automatic sprinkler systems connected to the domestic water supply.
Sprinkler systems offer advantages to the homebuilder:
For homeowners, the advantages include assurance of a safer environment for their families, protection of their investment and irreplaceable family possessions, and lower insurance rates 5 to 15 percent.
Residential sprinklers, listed by Underwriters Labs, are now available. They are designed to respond to a fire much faster than standard commercial and industrial sprinkler systems. The new home sprinklers react automatically to fires more quickly because of their improved sensitivity.
At the present time, cost of a home sprinkler system is targeted at approximately $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot in new construction. It is hoped that the cost will decrease as the use of home fire protection grows. It is also possible to retrofit existing homes with sprinkler systems.
For residential systems, the sprinklers will be smaller than traditional, commercial, and industrial sprinklers, and can be aesthetically coordinated with any room decor.
When homes are under construction or being remodeled, a home sprinkler system will require minimal extra piping and labor.
These systems will require less water than the systems installed in industrial or commercial establishments and can be connected to the domestic water supply.
The use of plastic pipe has brought down the cost of installation in new construction and the retrofit of existing structures.
Some notable successful applications of residential sprinklers and approved piping include:
The fire loss in this country in residential occupancies is alarming. Manual firefighting methods are not the answer. The way to attack the problem is to limit the fire growth where it occurs in dwellings. We have the technology to do that.
Residential Automatic Sprinkler Systems. Ordinance No. 745; Adopted May 28, 1969; by the San Clemente, California City Council
Proposition 13 was a major factor in promoting the ordinance. There is also a shift within the fire service toward more fire prevention and less suppression emphasis. San Clemente and Corte Madera, California were some of the first communities in the United States to enact a home sprinkler ordinance. Other communities that have initiated or plan to initiate residential sprinkler ordinances include:
Here are five statements about home sprinkler systems. Are they true or false?
Through the use of construction trade-offs, homebuilders and developers can achieve reduced construction costs if residential sprinkler systems are installed. Home sprinkler systems offer both safety and financial advantages to homebuyers, a rare combination.
Insurance from homeowner underwriters will vary depending on type of coverage. The discounts now range between 5-15%, with a projected increase in available discounts.
The U.S. Fire Administration's research in home fire sprinkler systems successfully focused on systems that would be low cost, fast acting and reliable. As a result, residential fire sprinklers have gained increased acceptance.
In November 1980, the National Fire Protection Association adopted the NFPA 13D Residential Sprinkler installation standard. The standard is based on technical data from the comprehensive full-scale fire tests, which were sponsored by the U.S. Fire Administration.