NFPA recently released its yearly U.S. Experience with Sprinklers report, documenting the presence and performance of fire sprinklers during reported fires for all occupancies, including homes. This report is available at no cost.
The presence of residential fire sprinklers has increased, specially in the last four years. As found in the report “…4.6% of occupied homes (including multi-unit) had sprinklers, up from 3.9% in 2007, and 18.5% of occupied homes built in the previous four years had sprinklers.”
Sprinklers are still rare in homes (6%), where most fire deaths occur. There is considerable potential for expanded use of sprinklers to reduce the loss of life and property to fire. With wet-pipe sprinklers the fire death rate per 1,000 reported home structure fires was lower by 82% and the rate of property damage per reported home structure fire was lower by 68%.
Sprinklers operated in 91% of all reported structure fires large enough to activate sprinklers, excluding buildings under construction and buildings without sprinklers in the fire area. When sprinklers operated, they were effective 96% of the time, resulting in a combined performance of operating effectively in 87% of all reported fires where sprinklers were present in the fire area and fire was large enough to activate them. The more widely used wet pipe sprinklers operated effectively 89% of the time, while dry pipe sprinklers operated effectively in 76% of cases.