Residential Fire Sprinklers

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SprinklerWhether you are building a new home, or renovating your existing home, you should consider installing residential fire sprinklers since:

  • a typical home can be engulfed in flames within 5 minutes after a fire starts
  • 8 out of 10 fire deaths occur in the home
  • a sprinkler system keeps small fires from becoming killers

Residential fire sprinklers, used in combination with smoke alarms, dramatically reduce risk of home fire deaths by 82%. Residential fire sprinklers can also decrease fire damage and home insurance premiums.

The reason why residential fire sprinklers are so effective is that they stop the fire before ‘flashover’. Flashover is the term for when the temperature, smoke and carbon monoxide make the room untenable to life.

Stopping a fire before flashover dramatically reduces the threat to occupants in other parts of the dwelling.

Residential fire sprinklers are considered “fast response” sprinklers. They activate much faster than a conventional fire sprinkler, and the special discharge throws water within 28 inches of the ceiling.

Unlike commercial and industrial systems, residential sprinklers are not designed to protect the home, they are designed to allow you time to get out and for the fire department to travel to your home to complete extinguishing the fire.

Common myths about residential fire sprinklers

Myth #1: Sprinklers are not needed: smoke alarms are enough

  • Smoke alarms warn occupants of a fire; sprinklers can extinguish it in its initial stage.
  • The age groups most susceptible to fire death, the very young and the elderly, are often unable to react even if the smoke alarm activates.
  • It is important to recognize the need for multiple approaches to fire safety.

Myth #2: All sprinklers will activate at the same time

  • Each sprinkler is individually activated by heat. Smoke does not trigger the sprinklers.
  • Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire.
  • The rest of the sprinklers will not activate unless there is also a fire in that location.
  • Single sprinklers can contain 90% of all home fires in just seconds.

Myth #3: Sprinklers can activate accidentally

  • The odds of accidental activation are 1 in 16 million.
  • Sprinkler mishaps are generally less likely and less severe than accidents involving home plumbing systems.

Myth #4: Sprinklers are expensive

  • Actual cost of installing sprinklers is much lower than most people think, often only 1% or less of the cost of a typical new home.
  • Residential fire sprinklers last for the life of the house and may save your life.
  • The use of plastic pipe has decreased installation costs in new home construction as well as the cost of ret­rofit in existing dwellings.
  • Some insurers offer discounts for sprinklered homes. Shop around for your insurance needs.

Myth #5: Sprinklers are unsightly

  • Modern sprinkler fixtures come in colors to match ceiling and wall colors and can be mounted flush with walls to be concealed.
  • Just like regular plumbing, pipes can be hidden behind ceilings or walls.

Myth #6: Sprinklers are hard to install

  • When homes are under construction or being remodeled, a home sprinkler system requires minimal extra piping and labor.
  • The most common system currently being installed is a multi-purpose system which integrates fire sprinklers into the household plumbing system connected to the domestic water supply.
  • A typical installation for a whole house can be completed in 1 day.

Myth #7: Water damage from sprinklers is worse than fire damage

  • A sprinkler activates during the early stages of a fire before the Fire Department arrives.
  • A sprinkler keeps the fire from spreading and widespread water damage is avoided.
  • A sprinkler controls a fire with a tiny fraction of the water used by fire department hoses.
  • Fire hoses typically discharge about 900 litres of water per minute versus a sprinkler head discharge of 50 to 60 litres of water per minute.

Myth #8: Sprinklers will leak

  • Sprinkler systems are under the same pressure as the plumbing system but are tested at 2-3 times higher pressure during installation.