Courtesy of State Farm: For more than a century, sprinkler systems have been dousing fires, preventing property damage and helping save lives in offices, factories, schools and other public places. Now they’re a safety feature in many homes. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a fire can grow from a small flame to fully engulfing a room in less than three minutes. FEMA notes that sprinklers, coupled with smoke alarms, can increase your chance of surviving a fire by more than 82 percent—and reduce home fire damage by up to 97 percent. If you’re considering a home fire sprinkler system, keep these things in mind:
- Smoke alarms alert residents but cannot extinguish a fire. Sprinklers may put out the fire even as the residents are fleeing the home. Stopping a fire in its earliest stages increases safety and reduces the amount of property damage.
- Sprinklers activate individually and only over the area of the fire. Unlike in the movies, sprinklers do not all go off at once throughout the house. Only the closest sprinkler to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire. Ninety percent of fires are contained by the operation of just one sprinkler, according to the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.
- Sprinklers are activated by heat, not smoke. Smoke from a recently snuffed candle or burned toast won’t accidentally trigger the system.
- Many sprinklers will activate within 30 to 60 seconds—faster than local firefighters can respond. Without sprinklers, the fire will continue to grow while firefighters are en route. More time waiting for firefighters means more risk to residents and more damage to the property.
- In one study, sprinklers used an estimated 341 gallons of water to control the average fire. Firefighters used and average of 2,935 gallons to extinguish a residential fire, according to a 15-year study of sprinklered versus unsprinklered homes in Scottsdale, Arizona.
- Residential sprinklers are smaller than commercial units. They can be incorporated into the ceiling treatment of many homes. Today’s sprinkler fixtures are available in a variety of finishes; some are concealed by ceiling plates or pendants, making them less noticeable.
- The costs of installing a home sprinkler system vary depending on many factors, including the location of the home, its water pressure and added fees. In a new home, the cost may add 1% to 2.75% to the total new construction cost. Nationally, on average, home fire sprinkler systems cost $1.61 per square foot of sprinkler space in new construction.
- Installing a home sprinkler system may reduce your homeowners insurance premiums.