Cost of installing residential fire sprinklers averages $1.61 per square foot

Published on September 11, 2008
New Fire Protection Research Foundation report assesses costs

September 11, 2008 – A national perspective on the cost of installing residential fire sprinklers is examined in a new report Home Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment (PDF, 634 KB), released today by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, an affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association. According to the report, the cost of installing sprinkler systems to the home builder averaged $1.61 per sprinklered square foot.  Sprinklered square feet is the total area of spaces with sprinklers

The cost of sprinkler systems to the home builder, in dollars per sprinklered square foot, rangedfrom $0.38 to $3.66. This cost includes all costs to the builder associated with the system including design, installation, and other costs such as permits, additional equipment, increased tap and water meter fees – to the extent that they apply.

“There’s no question that an investment in a residential fire sprinkler system can prove to be a life-saving decision, but when seeking cost information to make that decision, people are often hard pressed to find true costs.” said Kathleen Almand, executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. “We found that professionals in the field and the average person were in great need of reliable information in this area – the findings from our latest research project provide costs based on actual data.”

Case studies that examined installation costs and insurance premium discounts associated with the installation of home fire sprinkler systems were conducted for 10 communities, nine distributed throughout the United States and one in Canada. They are: Pitt Meadows, BC (Canada); San Clemente, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Huntley, IL; Matteson, IL; North Andover, MA; Carroll County, MD; Prince George’s County, MD; Wilsonville, OR; and Pleasant View, TN.

Communities were selected based on diversity in terms of sprinkler ordinance longevity, geographic location, housing style, and sprinkler system variables such as the type of piping material and the water supply source (municipal or on-site). Three building plans were collected from builders and sprinkler installers within each of these communities, along with sprinkler system cost data and other related cost and system information.

“More than 8 in 10 fire deaths occur in homes, yet the likelihood of someone dying in a home fire is cut in half when sprinklers are present,” said Gary Keith, NFPA’s vice president of field operations. “Installing a home fire sprinkler system is a huge step in the right direction when protecting people and property. This national cost assessment will help jurisdictions, building professionals, insurance companies, the fire service, and members of the general public interested in making informed decisions about home fire sprinklers.”

The Fire Protection Research Foundation Project Technical Panel included: David Butry, National Institute of Standards & Technology; Mike Chapman, Chapman Homes; Keith Covington, Third Coast Design Studio, LLC; Paul Emrath, National Association of Home Builders; Jeff Feid, State Farm Insurance; Tony Fleming, Metropolitan Fire Protection; J. Dennis Gentzel, Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal; Michael Kebles, Las Vegas Valley Water District; Gary Keith, National Fire Protection Association; Ron Murray, UA Local 290, Portland, OR; James Tidwell, International Code Council; Paul Valentine, Mt. Prospect Fire Department; and Kenneth Zaccard, Hanover Park Fire Department, representing IAFC.

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The Fire Protection Research Foundation plans, manages, and communicates consortium-funded research on a broad range of fire safety issues in collaboration with scientists and laboratories around the world. The Foundation is an affiliate of NFPA.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

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