Undercover investigation reveals homebuilding industry citing inflated costs for home fire sprinklers

Blog Post created by freddurso Employee on May 16, 2017

A news story by a Fox affiliate in Minnesota recently went undercover to determine cost estimates given by the homebuilding industry and how it compares to national averages documented by fire safety organizations. 

During the recent Twin Cities' Parade of Homes event, a TV news producer asked a homebuilding representative the cost to install fire sprinklers in two homes. The range, which was documented by the producer while undercover, was from $13,000 for a $700,00 home and up to $20,000 for a $1.2 million home. 


Highlighted in this investigation, the national average for sprinkler installations documented across the U.S. by NFPA is about one percent the a home's total construction cost. If adhering to the national estimate, the estimates stated by the building representative would be significantly less. 


Lofty estimates for fire sprinkler installations by the homebuilding industry have resonated with lawmakers and decision makers in Minnesota and elsewhere, who typically claim and believe fire sprinklers will price people out of buying homes. "I just don't believe they're necessary in a residential house,” Minnesota Senator Dave Senjem told the news station. "The body of evidence suggests that hard-wired smoke detectors are just fine and adequate in terms of personal protection."


Safety advocates vehemently disagree, citing irrefutable data underscoring that America's biggest fire problem is at home. Advocates also note that the opposition spends significant, political dollars in fighting sprinkler laws. For example, according to the Minnesota news story, the Twin Cities Builders Association alone "spent $750,000 on a media blitz, lobbying effort, and a court fight to abolish a state code which had required sprinklers in larger new homes." 


"It's a very big frustration because we are playing with peoples’ lives," Chief George Esbensen, president of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, told the news outlet. 


Help counter sprinkler opponents by getting educated on the actual costs of home fire sprinklers. Please review NFPA's research on this topic.