This Tuesday we continue our Mythblaster Monday series, where we discuss and debunk the myths around home fire sprinklers, offering resources to highlight their advantages and tackle the misinformation. Last Monday we found that home fire sprinklers are green, and they lower water usage, pollution, and gas emissions. Today we broach the other half of the water-use concern; a myth that acknowledges how much is at stake in a home fire.
Myth: 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.
We’ve all seen a movie where the fire sprinklers go off, drenching everyone and everything in sight for comedic effect. Fortunately, when it comes to how sprinklers suppress fires in the home, this image couldn’t be further from the truth. Home fire sprinklers begin battling a fire as soon as the heat around the sensor reaches a high enough temperature, in many cases extinguishing the flames before first responders arrive. As a result, a home fire sprinkler uses about 1/10th the amount of water as a fire hose, and at lower pressure. Plus, in 90 percent of home fires, the fire is controlled by only one sprinkler, lowering damages.
In addition to how much water is necessary to extinguish a fire that has had time to grow and spread, we also consider what the fire itself destroys—burning away beloved keepsakes, lives, furniture, and other elements that make a house into a home. This year’s NFPA Fire Prevention Week is all about cooking, and a recent study found that cooking activities caused $1.2 billion in property damage in home fires, as well as being the leading cause of fires in one- and two-family homes. In some cases, like the fire at Food Network star Rachel Ray’s home earlier this month, home fire sprinklers can be especially helpful for firefighting efforts in remote locations with limited access to water, helping to preserve the memories in our homes.
As we can clearly see, home fire sprinklers are one of the best ways to protect life and property from the devastation of home fires. This brochure offers a quick breakdown of the benefits for homeowners, and homebuilders can find information tailored to their concerns here. For more resources on home fire sprinklers and how to dispel the myths surrounding them, check out the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and Fire Sprinkler Initiative.