We know that new homes are commonly made with lightweight construction and modern, often synthetic furnishings that can lead home fires to create a toxic environment and burn more quickly than in the past. Home fire sprinklers protect occupants and property by controlling the fire before first responders arrive, but misinformation can keep people from taking advantage of them. Over the course of our Mythblaster Monday series, we have combatted several different myths and shared resources highlighting the features, facts, and advantages.
A recent report on home structure fires found that the presence of sprinklers lowered the death rate for home fires by 85 percent, compared to home fires without an automatic extinguishing system (AES), and in 90 percent of cases, one sprinkler is enough to control the fire. This benefit to fire & life safety cannot be overstated and increasing home fire sprinkler installations requires a combined effort from first responders, developers, local officials, and other stakeholders.
Here’s a breakdown of all the myths we have blasted away, in case you missed it:
- Myth 1: I have smoke alarms, so I don’t need home fire sprinklers.
Truth: Smoke alarms detect, sprinklers protect.
- Myth 2: Home Fire Sprinkler installation is too expensive.
Truth: Average fire sprinklers cost $1.35 per square foot of sprinklered space in new construction
- Myth 3: The fire department will be able to put out the fire and save my things.
Fact: Fire departments may not be able to get to your home for 9-12 minutes—plenty of time for a fire to grow to be deadly and cause massive damages.
- Myth 4: Sprinklers don’t benefit the environment
Fact: Fire hoses, on average, use eight-and-a-half times more water than sprinklers do to contain a fire.
- Myth 5: Water damage from sprinklers is worse than fire damage
Fact: Sprinkler flows are 10-26 gallons of water per minute. Sprinkler damage is a fraction of typical losses from an unsprinklered home fire.
- Myth 6: Smoke alarms cause fire sprinklers to activate.
Fact: Home fire sprinklers are only activated by the high temperature of a fire surrounding the sprinkler.
- Myth 7: Home fire sprinklers require costly inspections and maintenance.
Fact: It's easy--a flow test should be done a couple times a year.
- Myth 8: Sprinklers will leak.
Fact: Sprinkler mishaps are generally less likely and less severe than home plumbing system problems.
- Myth 9: My insurance rates will go up.
Fact: Most insurance companies reward customers who protect their homes with fire sprinklers
- Myth 10: If a community doesn’t require home fire sprinklers, we can’t ask builders to put them in.
Fact: Even without a code requirement, local jurisdictions can work with developers and builders on many possible incentives for including home fire sprinklers in construction.
- Myth 11: If one sprinkler goes off, they all go off
Fact: Sprinklers activate independently; only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate
- Myth 12: Sprinklers will freeze in winter.
Fact: The national installation standard provides guidance for proper installation in cold regions so that sprinklers don’t freeze.
This series works as an introduction to the assets available to home fire sprinkler advocates. Be sure to visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative to find further materials regarding installation incentives, educational resources for the public, AHJs, and more.