Why a home's open floor plan is concerning to fire safety advocates

TV home improvement shows usually marvel at homes with open-concept designs. After all, today's homeowners crave spaciousness. Rarely (if ever) discussed on these shows are the fire concerns of the open floor plan, and safety advocates say it's a topic that should be addressed. 

An NBC news station in Arizona aired a segment on these concerns. Members of local fire departments demonstrated fire spread in a setting mimicking a home with an open floor plan. In under 10 minutes, the damage was evident. The reporter and firefighters noted the fire's rapid spread and "cocktail of toxins" released by the burning materials, particularly from synthetic furnishings.  

Since it seems open-concept designs aren't going anywhere, the report underscores the importance of having working smoke alarms throughout a home. NFPA recommends new homeowners go a step further and seek out homes with fire sprinklers or ask for this technology when building a new home. Having combination smoke alarms and fire sprinklers in a home can significantly cut your risk of injury or worse from fire; the home fire death rate is an astounding 90 percent lower when hardwired smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are present. 

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