Safety Tip

Home fire sprinklers save lives and property. Read all of NFPA's home fire sprinkler safety tips and download our free safety tip sheet.

Sprinkler myths

MYTH: "When a fire occurs, every sprinkler will activate and everything in the house will be ruined."

FACT: In the event of a fire, only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire, leaving the rest of the house dry and secure. Roughly 85 percent of the time, just one sprinkler head operates.

More sprinkler myths and facts.

Properly installed and maintained automatic fire sprinkler systems help save lives.

Because fire sprinkler systems react so quickly, they can dramatically reduce the heat, flames, and smoke produced in a fire. Fire sprinklers have been around for more than a century, protecting commercial and industrial properties and public buildings. What many people don't realize is that the same life-saving technology is also available for homes, where roughly 85% of all civilian fire deaths occur.

Facts about home fire sprinklers

Automatic sprinklers are highly effective and reliable elements of total system designs for fire protection in buildings. According to an American Housing Survey, 4.6% of occupied homes (including multi-unit) had sprinklers in 2009, up from 3.9% in 2007, and 18.5% of occupied home built in the previous four years had sprinklers. Source: U.S. Experience with Sprinklers

  • 85% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in the home.
  • Home fire sprinklers can control and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene.
  • Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire. In 84% of home fires where the sprinklers operate, just one sprinkler operates.
  • If you have a fire in your home, the risk of dying is cut by about one-third when smoke alarms are present (or about half if the smoke alarms are working), while automatic fire sprinkler systems cut the risk of dying by about 80%.
  • In a home with sprinklers, the average property loss per fire is cut by about 70%
    (compared to fires where sprinklers are not present.)
  • The cost of installing home fire sprinklers averages $1.35 per sprinklered square foot.

NFPA's Lisa Braxton says many people don't realize that sprinklers are available for homes, where roughly 85% of all civilian fire deaths occur.

Fire Sprinkler Initiative

NFPA's "Fire Sprinkler Initiative outlines proven, effective ways that home fire sprinkler advocates can communicate the impact of sprinklers. Visit the initiative web site for free resources for the fire service and other sprinkler advocates, including fact sheets, videos, a free monthly newsletter, research, and our "Faces of Fire" campaign, which features real people telling personal stories that demonstrate the need for home fire sprinklers.

HFSC logo

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) is a leading resource for accurate, noncommercial information and materials about home fire sprinklers for consumers, the fire service, builders, and other professionals.

From the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog

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