Michael Hazell

Fire sprinklers in new homes: Why should firefighters care?

Blog Post created by Michael Hazell Employee on Jan 12, 2014

SprinklerFire in the home poses one of the biggest threats to people and communities. Nearly 2,500 people per year, on average, die in U.S. house fires. Last year 83% of the people who died in fires did so in one and two bedroom houses. Sixty-seven percent of all firefighter deaths in residential structural fires occurred in one and two bedroom houses, according to an article on International Fire Fighter.

The article, writen by Maria Figueroa, the recently-retired communications manager for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, says NFPA launched the sprinkler initiative in 2009, answering the calls of sprinkler advocates across the U.S., including the fire service, who were asking for a coordinated effort to encourage the use of home fire sprinklers.

Starting in 2006, NFPA 1, Fire Code, NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, require fire sprinkler protection in all new one and two family dwellings. (VIew these NFPA documents for online.) In 2009, the requirement was included in the International Residential Code (IRC). In addition, all model safety codes in the United States require fire sprinklers in all new homes. 

So why should firefighters care? 

  • New methods of construction negatively impact occupant and firefighter life safety under fire conditions. Specifically, risks created by engineered lumber. Studies point to the failure of lightweight engineered wood systems used in floors and roofs when exposed to fire. Read more about the issue of lightweight construction materials.
  • The synthetic construction of today’s home furnishings also add to the increased risk by providing a greater fuel load. 
  • Larger homes, open spaces, void spaces, and changing building materials contribute to faster fire propagation, shorter time to flashover, rapid changes in fire dynamics, shorter escape time and shorter time to collapse. Fire sprinklers can offset these increased dangers and create a safer fire environment for occupants and responding fire crews. 

Read the full article on International Fire Fighter

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