While many of us may have thought about installing a home sprinkler system, there are some common misconceptions that make the prospect seem undesirable. Let’s examine the data and find out what is true and what is not.
Smoke Alarms Are “Good Enough”
Myth: Smoke alarms will detect fires early enough to put them out before any real damage is done.
Fact: A fire can move much faster than people think. While smoke alarms alert you to a fire, they don’t do anything about putting them out. Home fire sprinklers can also help prevent the fire from spreading so you can get out safely.
- A fire can consume a room in three minutes or less.
- It can take up to five minutes for local firefighters to arrive.
- While it can take an hour (on average) for a house to burn down, it can become fully inundated in as little as five minutes.
- Fire sprinklers decrease the risk of dying by 85%
(For more fire facts and stats, check out: https://firefighterinsider.com/how-long-put-out-house-fire/)
New Homes Are Less Likely to Have a Fire
Myth: News homes (with better, newer wiring) are built to be safer and are less likely to have problems with fires.
Fact: While it is true that newer constructions are subject to stricter regulations, most fires have nothing to do with how a house is built. They begin with everyday activities like cooking or fire from candles. Also, newer buildings tend to use lighter construction materials. Lightweight materials burn faster and fail more quickly, giving you less time to escape and increasing your changes of being involved in a collapse.
The structure of the house is only part of the story. In the last 50 years, furnishings have moved from natural to synthetic materials and synthetic materials burn much faster.
The ULfirefightersafety.org created a Side by Side burn video showing the difference. The time to flashover: 5 min synthetic materials vs. 30 min natural materials. See below:
Sprinklers Are Expensive
Myth: Fire sprinkler systems are not affordable for the average person. They greatly increase the price of new homes and older homes are costly to retrofit and will require constant upkeep.
Fact: According to the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the average cost of installing a home fire sprinkler system is around $2.00 per sprinkled square foot for new homes. This is comparable to putting in a new carpet, and a relatively small price to pay to for high quality protection.
Maintenance requirements for home sprinkler systems are no different than keeping other mechanical systems of your home in good working order. For fire sprinklers, it usually requires a simple flow test once or twice per year and regular visual inspections. The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition put together a variety of resources to help you “Live with Home Fire Sprinklers” if you would like to find out more.
Home Fire Sprinklers Can Leak Water
Myth: Water in overhead pipes can leak and cause a mess.
Fact: According to NFPA’s “U.S. Experience with Sprinklers” report, most people living in sprinklered homes did not experience water leaks. So you will probably be safe from those types of problems.
All the Sprinklers Will Activate & Damage My Property
Myth: Many people think that when there’s a fire, all of the fire sprinklers in a house will activate at once and get everything wet. Some people think the damage from the sprinkler systems could be worse than damage from the actual fire.
Fact: Only fire sprinklers closest to the fire will be activated. Most of the time, it is as few as one sprinkler.
Also, let’s put it in perspective. A fire can burn down your home, destroy your property, and potentially cause physical injury and death. Fire sprinklers prevent a fire from spreading. Yes, the sprinkler will likely make a small portion of your house wet, but it will be much less damaging than a fire… or when fire-fighters extinguish the fire with industrial strength hoses.
Home Fire Sprinklers Are Ugly
Myth: Fire sprinkler heads will be sticking out of my ceiling.
Fact: New fire sprinkler models are unobtrusive and relatively unnoticeable.
Smoke Alarms Activate Sprinkler Systems
Myth: Some think that when a smoke detector is activated, it will also trip some sort of fire sprinkler mechanism and needlessly drench a person’s house.
Fact: Fire sprinklers are carefully calibrated to only react to heat from fires, and will not go off in response to smoke or if you burn some popcorn.
Have We Changed Your Mind?
Home sprinkler systems are affordable, aesthetically pleasing, and efficient at doing their job, i.e. putting out fires… protecting your home, property, and the people you care about. We hope that we cleared up some confusion about home sprinklers and “set the record straight.”
For more information about Spaeder’s fire protection services, don’t hesitate to get in touch at (814) 456-7014 or email through our online form. Also, if you already have a home sprinkler system, we would love to hear comments about your own experiences.