Dispelling myths: Water damage from fire sprinkler activation is not greater than fire damage

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Jul 27, 2012

One myth perpetuated by home fire sprinkler opponents is that water damage from the activation of a home fire sprinkler system is greater than fire damage. Information that follows will provide facts to refute this myth.

Home fire sprinklers designed and installed to NFPA 13D standard are intended to "prevent flashover (total involvement) in the room of origin and improve the chance for occupants to escape or be evacuated." Based on ten minutes of two sprinklers flowing the total water to put out the fire may be 260 gallons. When firefighters respond to find an uncontrolled fire they use approximately 250 gpm, or ten times more than a fire sprinkler, as an animation by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition clearly illustrates.

According to the Scottsdale Report, a fire sprinkler uses, on average, 341 gallons of water to control a fire. Firefighters, on average, use 2,935. A water usage study conducted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation reveals the amount of water used by responding fire services at home fires without sprinkler systems average 3,524 gallons per fire. Another study by FM Global on the environmental impact of automatic fire sprinklers found that these systems reduce water usage by upwards of 90%.


The FM Global study also found that automatic fire sprinklers reduce fire damage by up to 97% per fire. The US Experience with Sprinklers report, (NFPA 2012) reveals that the rate of property damage was lower by 69%.

As found by the studies cited here, water and fire damage is considerably less when sprinklers are present and activate to control a home fire. Most importantly, they save lives.

Visit our Research/Report section to view more studies, and a section to learn how to dispel other myths