Local national fire experts show need for home fire sprinklers

Published on May 26, 2009

Top photo: The room without the sprinkler burns completely in just a minute-and-a-half


Center photo:The fire in the sprinkler-protected room is put out quickly.


Bottom photo:The side-by-side comparison of the two rooms.

 Download NFPA's "U.S. Experience with Sprinklers and Other Fire Extinguishing Equipment" report. (PDF, 353 KB)
 Download a printable fact sheet on home fire sprinklers. (PDF, 53 KB)
 Download the Fire Protection Research Foundation's "Home Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment" report (PDF, 634 KB)

PLYMOUTH, MA, May 26, 2009 – After house fires killed four area residents in just the past three months, the Plymouth, Mass. Fire Department and national fire safety experts vividly showed the life-saving difference home fire sprinkler systems can make. Plymouth fire officials joined the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal, Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and the National Fire Protection Association in a live demonstration of fire sprinklers this afternoon. The demonstration provided a graphic display of how quickly home fire sprinklers work to subdue heat, flames and smoke in a very dangerous situation. Nearly 3,000 Americans die each year in house fires. It is estimated you could have as little as three minutes to escape a home fire should one occur.

“Sprinklers save lives,” said G. Edward Bradley, Plymouth Fire Chief. “Frankly, we are seeing too many people die in residential fires in this area. Home fire sprinkler systems are the best protection you and your family can have to escape a fire in your home. This demonstration shows that quite clearly.”

The demonstration included a side-by-side room display where sprinklers had been installed in only one of the rooms. The other room was not sprinklered. Both rooms were set on fire. Home fire sprinklers are designed to activate when a certain degree of heat increase is reached, so as the temperature in the display went up, the sprinklers went off. As seen in the demonstration, the fire in the sprinklered room was controlled quickly by overhead sprinklers. In contrast, the fire in the room without sprinklers burned out of control until the Plymouth Fire Department put out the fire. The fire and smoke damage in the spinklered room was significantly less than in the room without sprinklers. The demonstration was narrated by Ron Hazelton, a national home repair expert and spokesperson for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

Recounting a successful sprinkler save elsewhere in Massachusetts, State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said, “Sprinklers are like having a firefighter in every room ready to put out the fire.” With home fire sprinklers, not only can the lives of residents be saved, but the lives of the fire fighters who bravely step in to take control of the situation can be saved as well.”

“We have long known the benefits of sprinklers in other types of buildings. It is time one and two family homes have that same level of protection,” said Jim Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). “Statistics show that approximately 80 percent of all fire deaths occur in homes; however, when home fire sprinklers are present, the chances of dying in a house fire decrease by about 80 percent. That is why NFPA is so committed to home fire sprinkler requirements in all new one- and two-family construction. It’s simply about saving lives.”

Currently, all model building codes call for sprinklers in new construction of one- and two-family homes. Roughly 90 percent of the time, fires are contained by the activation of just one sprinkler. In homes where sprinklers are not present, the fire can burn for minutes, raging out of control, filling the home with toxic smoke and resulting in far greater losses. A recent report from NFPA shows that sprinklers can reduce the average property loss by 71 percent per fire.

About the Fire Sprinkler Initiative: Bringing Safety Home 
The Fire Sprinkler Initiative, a project of the National Fire Protection Association, is a nationwide effort to encourage the use of home fire sprinklers and the adoption of fire sprinkler requirements for new construction.

About the National Fire Protection Association
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.

About the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition
HFSC is the leading resource for independent, noncommercial information about residential fire sprinklers. HFSC was formed in 1996 in response to the tremendous need to inform the public about the life-saving value of home fire sprinkler protection.

About the State Department of Fires Services (DFS)
The State Fire Marshal heads the Department of Fire Services, the sole agency within state government responsible for overall coordination of fire service policy and operations. Specially trained State Police are assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal to conduct fire and explosion investigations. The mission of the Department of Fire Services is to provide the people of Massachusetts the ability to create safer communities through coordinated training, education, prevention, investigation, emergency response and leadership.


Lorraine Carli, NFPA: +1 617 840-4180
Jennifer Mieth, Office of the State Fire Marshal: +1 978-567-3381
Peg Paul, Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition: +1 815 592-9278