Overall value and impact of home fire sprinkler incentives underscored

Published on October 28, 2010
October 28, 2010 – The installation of sprinkler systems in US homes is becoming increasingly common due to building codes and ordinances, and in recognition of the life safety benefits these systems provide. A new study takes a look at incentives used across the country. “Incentives for the Use of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems in the U.S.,” an October 2010 study was released today by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, an affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The report - which is the second part to a study released in 2008 that looked at the costs associated with home fire sprinklers - underscores the considerable influence incentives can have on building costs and the overall cost of a sprinkler system.

“For years, myths and misconceptions about residential sprinkler systems have proliferated among some groups, which have effectively worked to deter homeowners from even considering installing sprinklers in new construction,” says Jim Shannon, NFPA president and CEO. “The Research Foundation’s work de-bunks those fallacies with real-life examples, which demonstrate that the proper incentives can and do motivate homeowners and builders to install sprinklers.” In that process, Shannon notes, those communities are becoming better educated about sprinklers’ true feasibility.

Conducted for the Foundation by Newport Partners, LLC, with an advisory panel consisting of representatives from NAHB, ICC, NIST, fire service, home builders and sprinkler contractors, the study evaluated the nature and impact of incentives by identifying, characterizing, and estimating the approximate value of sprinkler system incentives found in communities across the U.S. In-depth interviews were conducted among 16 communities that each offered one or more incentives to encourage the use of sprinkler systems in new single-family homes. Incentives were categorized as financial trade-offs, on-site design flexibility, and off-site design flexibility, while the beneficiaries of different incentives were the homeowner, builder, or developer.

Report’s Key Findings:

  1. A representative selection of builder-oriented incentives could offset approximately one-third of the cost of a sprinkler system for a new home. Examples of builder-oriented incentives included reduced or waived fees and reduced fire ratings for building assemblies.
  2. Incentives expected to accrue to builders were found to have the largest estimated value, totaling $1,949 per building lot; developer-oriented incentives were estimated to offer a value of $1,271/lot. Incentives relating to homeowners were lower, with a total first-year value of $145/lot.
  3. Each of the homeowner-oriented incentives (e.g. reduced property taxes) was found to have recurring benefits. When valuing these incentives over long-term, they compare more favorably to the values for builders and developers.

“Clearly, incentives provide solid potential to increase the use of residential sprinkler systems,” said Shannon. “We hope and expect that the communities included in this study and their collective incentives serve as models for other jurisdictions to draw from as they encourage the use of residential sprinklers in their own communities.”

The 16 communities interviewed for the study include: Gorham, Maine; Baltimore County, Md.; Fairfax County and Chesterfield County, Va.; Altamonte Springs, Orange County, Elk Grove, and Moraga-Orinda Fire District, Calif.; Scottsdale and Goodyear, Ariz.; Wilsonville, Ore.; Spring Lake Park, Minn.; State of Illinois; Lake Forest, Ill.; Montpelier and Hartford, Vt..

Newport Partners completed the Home Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment report in 2008, which found the cost of installing sprinkler systems to the home builder averaged $1.61 per sprinklered square foot. They examined installation costs and insurance premium discounts associated with the installation of home fire sprinkler systems in 10 communities.

For more information about these studies or home fire sprinklers, please visit www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is 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.

About the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Foundation)
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.

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275