In 2009, only 20% of reported fires occurred in one- and two-family homes, but these fires caused 70% (2,107) of all civilian fire deaths. Homes also account for the largest share of civilian fire injuries and direct property damage.
Despite the fact that these figures represent improvement over the last 30 years, they continue to be appalling. Such losses are unacceptable.
The Building and Fire Research Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has studied the impact of both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers in residential occupancies and estimates that:
1. When fire sprinklers alone are installed, the chances of dying in a fire are reduced by 69%, when compared to a home without sprinklers.
2. When smoke alarms alone are installed, a reduction in the death rate of 63% can be expected, when compared to a home without smoke alarms.
3. When both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are present, the risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82%, when compared to a home without either.
The Benefits of Residential Fire Sprinklers
While smoke alarms can alert residents to a home fire, they cannot extinguish a fire. Fire sprinkler systems can!
What are the benefits?
• Safer Fire Service: The risk for firefighters decreases when residential fire sprinklers are in use because sprinklers reduce the intensity of the fire by dousing the flame earlier.
• Fast Response: Modern residential fire sprinklers are designed to respond to the fire faster than commercial or industrial sprinkler systems because they are most sensitive to heat.
• Aesthetically Pleasing: Residential fire sprinklers are smaller and less conspicuous than commercial or industrial types. Color variations are available and some can be installed flush with the ceiling.
• Reliable: Fire sprinkler systems exceed a 95% "fail safe" status in laboratory testing. Sprinklers individually activate only if there is a fire in which the heat escalates past the sprinkler's trigger point.
• Investment Protection: Fire sprinklers can prevent devastating home damage by extinguishing flames quickly. Sprinklers can limit the damage caused by smoke and fire and are less damaging than water damage caused by firefighting hose lines.
• Simple Installation: Installing a fire sprinkler system in a home that is under construction or being remodeled requires minimal extra piping and labor and greatly increases the safety of the residents.
• Low Water Requirement: Residential fire sprinklers can be connected to the domestic water supply and require less water than commercial and industrial systems.
• Low Cost: Residential fire sprinklers cost about $1.61 per square foot. The cost is about the same as upgraded cabinets or carpet.
• Lower Insurance: Installing a fire sprinkler system has the potential to lower insurance rates 5 to 15% by meeting code requirements.