According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), over half of structure fires were in one- or two-family dwellings. Home fires caused 3,030 deaths; which could have been prevented if a home fire sprinkler system had been installed. The combination of a smoke alarm and sprinkler system reduces the chances of dying in a fire by 80%. The NFPA estimates that sprinkler systems are in less than 1% of all one- and two-family dwellings and less than 8% of apartments.
Many people have misconceptions about home fire sprinkler systems. Home sprinkler systems are often discounted as being too costly, too damaging, too ugly, or too likely to go off accidentally. But the facts of these systems are quite different.
A home fire sprinkler system will add about $0.50 to $2.50 per square foot to new construction depending on the market where you live. Current homes can experience double the costs due to the removal and replacement of existing drywall in the installation process. Yet these costs can be reduced if the sprinkler system is installed with other home renovations. These sprinkler systems will reduce your home insurance rates by 5 to 15%. The average cost of fire damage in homes with sprinkler systems was about $2,100. In comparison, the average cost of fire damages in homes without sprinkler systems was about $45,000.
Many assume that sprinkler systems will cause further damage. Sprinklers will only go off in rooms where they are triggered. If there is a fire in the kitchen, a sprinkler in the bedroom will not go off. Experts estimate that home fires are controlled by one sprinkler head, 95% of the time. They will keep the fire under control until the fire fighters arrive. The combination of fire and water from their hoses is more likely to cause more home damage than a sprinkler system.
Most people worry that a sprinkler system will go off accidentally or before they are necessary. These systems require temperatures of about 165°F to be triggered; not smoke. The chances of being killed by a meteorite are 32 times greater than your sprinkler system going off accidentally – about one in 16 million.
Ugly Sprinkler Heads
Home fire sprinkler systems can look a lot different from the types installed in businesses. In fact, most come with sprinkler heads that are nearly invisible. Some can even recede into the ceiling behind metal plates when not in use. These plates can be coordinated to match your décor and others have heads that only protrude about 1/2 inch from the ceiling or wall. Home sprinkler systems are designed to respond differently than those in commercial buildings. Home sprinklers spray more outwardly than commercial models and can cover between 150 to 400 square feet, requiring fewer sprinkler heads.