Lewes Becomes Second City in Delaware to Require Fire Sprinklers in all New Homes

The fight to put fire sprinklers in every home took a step in the right direction earlier this month as the city council for Lewes, Delaware approved an ordinance to require fire sprinklers to be put in every new home constructed in the city. This ordinance comes at the response of Lewes and the surrounding area having dealt with several major fires over the past few months.

Lewes joins Newark as the only cities in Delaware to have strict requirements for fire sprinklers in homes. Council member Andrew Williams told Delaware Public Media that this new requirement helps protect the city as it continues to rapidly grow. “As the county develops and Lewes continues to develop and we rely on a volunteer fire team, many of them are coming from outside the city and it’s more congested for them to get to fires, therefore, it’s becoming more and more dangerous for our residents,” said Williams.

Fire sprinklers have repeatedly been proven effective at preventing large scale fires, thus saving lives and properties. According to NFPA's "U.S. Experience with Sprinklers" report

  • the civilian death rate was 81 percent lower in homes with fire sprinklers than in homes without them.
  • the average firefighter injury rate was nearly 80 percent lower when fire sprinklers were present during fires.
  • when sprinklers were present, fires were kept to the room of origin 97 percent of the time.
  • the home fire death rate was 90 percent lower when fire sprinklers and hardwired smoke alarms were present. By comparison, this death rate is only 18 percent lower when battery-powered smoke alarms are present but automatic extinguishing systems weren't.

By reducing the threat of a large fire, fire sprinklers also help protect firefighters from onsite injuries and cancer. Cancer in firefighters is a serious issue. According to two studies from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, they find that:

  • Firefighters face a nine percent increase in cancer diagnosis.
  • Firefighters also face a 14 percent increase in cancer related deaths compared to the general US population.

Lewes took a step in the right direction to protecting their city. They join hundreds of cities across the country in requiring this life saving element. In addition, California, Maryland, and Washington D.C. require fire sprinklers in all new homes.

Learn more about NFPA’s fire sprinkler initiative on our website.

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Matt Levin
Matthew Levin
NFPA Public Affairs Intern

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