Sprinkler heads

Sustainable Home Improvement Magazine Article Emphasizes Value of Home Fire Sprinklers

House fires today are becoming increasingly dangerous and deadly, highlighting the necessity of home fire sprinkler units. According to an NFPA “Fire Loss in the United States During 2019” report, there were about 1.3 million fires requiring a response from a fire department. These fires led to approximately 8,800 injuries and 3,700 deaths. According to research, if someone reports a home fire, they are 15 percent more likely to die than they were 40 years ago. Today, fires burn faster and kill quicker in large part because “the contents of modern homes (such as furnishings) can burn faster and more intensely,” Richard Bukowski, a senior engineer at the National Institute of Standards and

Technology, was quoted as saying in Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) fact sheet. Fire sprinklers have been proven effective at controlling fires and would halt the growth of these statistics if they were widely used in homes.

In a recent article from Rise, a leading online authority in sustainable home improvement, Sheri Koones wrote about why fire sprinklers are so effective. “When there is a fire in the house, a sprinkler can respond almost immediately, reducing the amount of damage caused by the fire and potentially saving the lives of the residents,” she said. This is extremely important as she noted later in the article that “it usually takes the fire department between five and 10 minutes to arrive at the home.” HFSC states that fire flashover takes place within the first three to five minutes of the fire based on national averages. Fire sprinkler systems can control a fire even before firefighters arrive on the scene. According to the graph below from NFPA,  the death rates from fires in homes with a sprinkler system is significantly lower than those without.

Death rates in homes with sprinklers

However, from 2010-2014, fire sprinkler systems were only found in seven percent of all home fires, according to NFPA. Even though fire sprinkler systems have been proven extremely effective, people still have many misconceptions about them. In her article, Koones lists some of the most common ones and disproves them:

  1. Smoke will activate fire sprinklers.
    Koones is quick to show that this is false, writing that “the sprinklers are activated by heat, not smoke.” 
  2. When there is a fire, all the sprinklers in the house are activated.
    “Only the sprinkler closest to the fire is activated by the heat,” Koones says. “This localized activation confines the water to just the area where the fire is raging.”
  3. The sprinklers may not look aesthetically pleasing.

“Home fire sprinklers are far less conspicuous compared to older commercial sprinklers. You can install pendants or concealed sprinklers on the ceiling or a wall. Concealed sprinklers have a plate. Some can be panted by the sprinkler manufacturer to match the room’s colors,” Koones states.

To read the full article, visit buildwithrise.com. Also, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition website to get information and resources to help you in your efforts to communicate the value of sprinkler technology and the need for more home installations to save more lives.

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Matt Levin
Matthew Levin
NFPA Public Affairs Intern

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