Home Fire Sprinklers: Good for the Environment

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Feb 23, 2009

Lots of people have been inquiring about the environmental benefits of home fire sprinklers. It is an issue of great interest because as policy makers are busy debating how to implement "green initiatives" it is important to highlight the environmental benefits of fire sprinklers. One more argument to bring into any future discussion of residential fire sprinkler adoptions.

Many experts agree that fire sprinklers are good for the environment. I'd like to share excerpts from a comprehensive article I found on the subject, courtesy of ARAContent on the eco-benefits of residential fire sprinklers that pretty much sums it up. Some of the content cited in the article comes from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Scottsdale Report.

  • Fire hoses, on average, use more than eight times the water that sprinklers use to contain a fire. The typical sprinkler system will use 341 gallons of water. In comparison, a firefighter’s hose will use roughly 2,935 gallons in a single fire. The reduced amount of water consumption equates to less groundwater runoff. Those thousands of gallons of water from the firefighters’ hoses have to flow somewhere. And they do – right into groundwater supplies – along with all the toxins and debris that are disbursed from the fire.
  • A fire sprinkler system also reduces the amount of toxins being released into the air. A free burning house fire effects air quality from burning polyester, insulation and dry wall; plus all the household cleaners and chemicals found in a typical home. Home fire sprinklers contain and often extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene. That minimizes the amount of time the structure and contents are burning and spewing toxins. 
  • Landfills are another concern resulting from an uncontrolled house fire. Whether a house is completely destroyed in a fire or is only damaged, tons of building materials, furnishings and other ruined possessions are hauled to the dump. According to a green building guidelines report created by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (San Leandro, Calif.), it’s estimated that 21 percent of materials disposed in county landfills are construction and demolition debris. Rebuilding a home will not only require new building materials but also generates tons of construction waste. The report states that total construction waste generated from one 2,000-square-foot new home is nearly 13 tons.

Water usage, groundwater runoff, toxins in the air, and landfill overcrowding are the more serious environmental concerns created by a household fire – aside from the obvious life-threatening effects. All of these can be minimized and, in some cases, eliminated with the installation of a properly working fire sprinkler system.

Stay tuned for future studies and testing on the eco benefits of residential fire sprinkler systems.