A new report finds key stakeholder groups accept and value home fire sprinklers
ONCE THEY BECOME A REQUIREMENT and the details of implementation are worked out, home fire sprinklers are well accepted and highly valued. Overall, consumers and local government officials appreciate the life safety benefits of home sprinklers, while water purveyors are willing to prepare the supply infrastructure for sprinklers.
Those are some of the key findings of a new report that looks at the stakeholder experience with home sprinklers in California and Maryland, the only two states in the country with mandatory requirements for home fire sprinklers. The report, “Stakeholder Perceptions of Home Fire Sprinklers,” was commissioned by the Fire Protection Research Foundation and is based on market research, conducted by Newport Partners, that focuses on homeowners, local government officials, and water purveyors. As more states and jurisdictions consider sprinkler adoption, it was considered an opportune moment to gauge stakeholder perceptions in states with widespread adoption. Key findings include:
Homeowners. The majority of homeowners have a very positive view of sprinklers and would seek to have them included in their next home. Their positive view is most clearly associated with a sense of improved life safety (94 percent). The majority of homeowners did not worry about water damage, though 32 percent indicated concern for water damage to furniture, to the structure, or both, a finding that may indicate an opportunity for further education on home fire sprinklers.
In terms of cost, the majority of homeowners did not believe they paid an additional cost for the home fire sprinklers. The majority (62 percent) of respondents answered that they did not know or left blank the question on what they would pay for home fire sprinkler installation.
Local government officials. It is clear that most local government officials view home fire sprinklers in a positive light. The majority of participants believe that home fire sprinklers help reduce death and injury to both residents and firefighters and help reduce the costs due to fire damage. The conversation about home fire sprinklers seems to be more prevalent in Maryland than in California, but in both states the majority felt the conversation was positive. While very few people indicated there was any negative tone to the conversation surrounding home fire sprinklers, when they did, cost was identified as the biggest issue.
Water purveyors. Most water purveyors in both California and Maryland required a larger service line and a larger meter in advance of the sprinkler requirement taking effect. Purveyors typically deal up to the meter, so once the service line and upgraded meter are in place, water utilities have little concern for home sprinklers. In Maryland, water purveyors are aware of the regulation but leave the application, implementation, maintenance, and performance to the permit and fire engineering departments. Purveyors in California have similar responses, though some participants interviewed identified additional requirements beyond the installation standard or additional fees beyond usage fees.