You never know when or where a fire will start in your home. What if you could have a firefighter stationed in every room 24 hours a day, ready to stop a fire the minute it broke out? That is what fire sprinklers are – instant firefighters. They are installed in the ceiling or high on a wall and are attached to the same water supply that feeds your home’s plumbing fixtures. Residential fire sprinklers are small. In fact, they fit in so well that you have to point them out for people to notice them.
- Sprinklers save lives.
Sprinklers are one of the most effective fire safety devices ever invented. The National Fire Protection Association reports that people with smoke alarms in their home have a 50 percent better chance of surviving a fire. Adding sprinklers and smoke alarms increases your chances of surviving a fire to more than 97 percent.
- Sprinklers save property.
Residential fire sprinklers are designed to save lives, but because they control fires so quickly, they also reduce property damage. Fire reports show that property damage is nine times lower in homes where sprinklers are installed.
Sprinklers and sprinkler piping are pressure-tested at two to three times higher than normal plumbing systems, which means the chance of a sprinkler leaking is actually quite small. Additionally, sprinkler pipes are not exposed to cold areas, which means they are protected from freezing.
The heat from a fire will activate the nearest sprinkler. The sprinkler’s water quickly cools the hot fire gases, which typically eliminates the need to open the next nearest sprinkler. In the rare case that the heat is too much for the nearest sprinkler, it will open the next nearest sprinkler. The end result is that only the sprinklers necessary to stop the fire will operate.
One of the myths about sprinklers is that they will cause water damage. While this may seem logical (after all, they spray water), fire records show that the reverse is actually true. Here is why. A residential fire sprinkler sprays about only 10-18 gallons of water per minute and operates early in a fire to stop the burning. A hose used by firefighters flows ten times that amount, 175-200 gallons a minute. If sprinklers are not present, fires typically burn for an additional 10-15 minutes until firefighters arrive and begin spraying it with their hoses. Two things happen to cause more damage than sprinklers. First, more of your possessions have burned up before the firefighters intervened, and second, you have 10 times more water being sprayed at a very high pressure on what you have left.