The Urbandale Fire Department (UFD) provides you with some information on residential fire sprinkler systems.
Some homeowners are reluctant to install sprinklers because they don't know the facts about their operation and/or are misled by their home builder. Because of their size, most single-family dwellings are not required to have fire sprinkler systems installed. However, the Urbandale Fire Department strongly encourages residents to install a fire sprinkler system in their home.
Myth: The water damage from sprinklers is worse than a fire. Fact: A sprinkler activates during the early stages of a fire before it grows and spreads. A sprinkler will control or extinguish a fire with a tiny fraction of the water that would be used by fire department hoses. Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate spraying water directly on the fire, not the rest of the house.
Myth: Sprinklers go off accidentally, causing unnecessary water damage. Fact: Accidental sprinkler discharge is extremely rare. One study concluded that home sprinkler accidents are generally less likely and less severe than standard home plumbing mishaps. And, despite the Hollywood "sight gags", burned toast and cigarette smoke will not trigger sprinkler operation. Each sprinkler works independently and only in response to fire.
Myth: Sprinklers are ugly. Fact: Modern residential sprinklers are inconspicuous and can be mounted flush with walls or ceilings. Some sprinklers can even be concealed. And, just like regular plumbing, pipes can be hidden behind ceilings or walls.
Myth: Fires are a problem exclusive to older homes. Fact: The leading causes of fires in both old and new homes are directly related to human behavior, such as:
cooking (both attended and unattended)
heating fires (including space heaters
children playing with matches and lighters
None of these is related to the structure itself! Electrical fires that are structurally related account for only 10 percent or less of all home fires.
A Safe and Smart Choice
Fire sprinklers are mandatory in most public buildings, and people are now demanding the same level of protection for their homes. Home fire sprinklers save lives, reduce property loss and can even help cut homeowners' insurance premiums. Not only do home fire sprinklers dramatically reduce the risk of home fire deaths, they also decrease fire damage by as much as two-thirds when compared to homes without sprinklers.
Many communities across the U.S. are seeing impressive results from installing home fire sprinklers in all new construction. In Scottsdale, AZ, fire sprinklers have been required in all new homes since 1986. Today, more than half the homes in Scottsdale are protected with sprinklers. There have been no deaths in sprinklered homes, while 13 people died in homes without sprinklers. There was less fire damage in the homes with sprinklers. The average fire loss per sprinklered incident was $2,166 compared to more than $45,000 loss per fire in homes without fire sprinklers.
When building a home, you choose from many options—carpeting, a fireplace, or an extra bathroom, for instance. For about the same cost, you can choose a home fire sprinkler system to safeguard your family. No other option provides you with the peace of mind that fire sprinklers can. It's like having your own firefighter standing by.
Recent technology breakthroughs make fire sprinklers more affordable and easier to install in homes. With a variety of designs available, sprinklers blend into the interior decor with ease. And, sprinkler systems usually operate off the domestic water supply. Sprinklers keep fires small. Because a fire sprinkler system reacts so quickly, it can dramatically reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced in a fire. Home fire sprinkler systems control the fire with only 10 to 26 gallons of water per minute. In a home without sprinklers, a fire department often arrives after the fire has grown to dangerous levels. At that point, a number of hose streams must be applied to the fire at approximately 125 gallons per minute for each hose. In sprinklered residences, 90% of fires are contained by the operation of just one sprinkler.
Home fire sprinkler systems often cost less than cabinet upgrades, new carpeting and many other options in new home construction. A good rule of thumb estimate is to add 1 to 11?2 percent to the cost of new housing. Fire sprinklers can also be installed in existing homes. When you consider the degree of built-in reliability and responsiveness that home fire sprinklers offer, the investment is a wise one.
If you have questions about residential fire sprinkler systems, please contact the Urbandale Fire Department at (515) 278-3970 or by email.