Protect Your Home with a Fire Sprinkler System

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH, 2010

To protect investments in buildings and machinery, textile mills in New England began using sprinkler systems over 100 years ago following a series of devastating fires that claimed many lives and destroyed entire businesses. Schools, office buildings, factories and other commercial buildings have since benefited from fire protection sprinkler systems. But what about our homes?

Sprinklers in Homes

Use home sprinkler systems along with smoke detectors to cut risk of fire related deaths by 82%.

Using a home sprinkler system along with smoke detectors cuts the risk of fire related death by 82%.

We protect our businesses and institutions from fire, but what actions do we take to protect our families, homes and possessions from fire? Millions of people 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 2005 there were 369,000 residential fires, which resulted in 3,055 civilian deaths, nearly 14,000 injuries and well over $6 billion in property damage.

Studies by the United States Fire Administration indicate that the installation of residential fire sprinkler systems could have prevented many of those casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in property losses. Residential sprinklers have been proven to result in lower fire damage and little or no spread of the fire from the room where it started.

Using quick response sprinklers and approved piping, dwellings can be built or retrofitted to include low-cost automatic sprinkler systems connected to the domestic water supply. Residential sprinklers are designed to respond to a fire much faster than currently available standard commercial and industrial systems.

Advantages

For homeowners, the advantages of a fire sprinkler system include assurance of a safer environment for their families and protection of their investment in property and irreplaceable possessions. Discounts on homeowners insurance may be available

Families with children, senior citizens and handicapped members have special fire protection needs. Home sprinkler systems provide added protection for these people.

In case of a home fire, firefighters will have less risk of injury or life loss since they will be fighting a fire of less intensity.

Sprinkler Concerns

A frequent concern regarding home fire sprinkler systems is that water damage from a sprinkler system will be more extensive than fire damage.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, sprinkler heads are designed to react to temperatures in each room individually. Thus, fire in a bedroom will activate only the sprinkler in that room. The sprinkler system will limit the fire’s growth. Damage from a home sprinkler system will likely be much less severe than the smoke and fire damage that would have occurred if the fire had gone on unabated, or even the water damage caused by water from firefighting hose lines.

Sprinklers are designed and tested to minimize the possibility of accidental start.

When residences are under construction or being remodeled, a home sprinkler system will require minimal extra piping and labor. Current estimates suggest that a home sprinkler system adds about 1% to the total building price of new construction.

Smoke Alarms

The U.S. Fire Administration continues to recommend that every home has and maintains working smoke alarms. However, USFA believes that this is only part of the solution.

Together with smoke alarms, sprinklers cut the risk of dying in a home fire by 82%, relative to having neither.

Check your smoke alarms today and be sure they are working. If you don’t already have smoke alarms in your house, ask your chimney service professional to install them on every level of your home.

And for an additional measure of safety, consider adding home fire sprinklers the next time you remodel or build.

Information courtesy of U.S. Fire Administration

Reprinted, with permission, from the August 2007 issue of THE CIMNEY SWEEP NEWS, an independent trade magazine for chimney service professionals. Jim Gillam, editor/publisher. 541-882-5196. www.ChimneySweepNews.com

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