December 28, 2015
One of the simplest methods of fire life safety and protection are sprinkler systems. Yet in regions where they are not mandated by building codes, sprinklers are often bypassed under many misconceptions of cost and functionality. This is just mind boggling considering the many benefits that accompany their installation in a structure.
Here is a handy guide to many of the myths and misconceptions that are used to argue against the need for sprinklers in different types of buildings:
Cost is Too High
Many people feel the cost of installing fire sprinklers is too exorbitant to be included in blueprints in areas where they are not mandated. But the cost of installing fire sprinklers in commercial buildings taller than 5 floors during construction is only about $1.00 per foot, and four to five times more if retrofitting existing buildings. To install sprinklers in a new residential building is approximately 1% of the total cost of construction. Roughly the same cost of installing carpet in the home. But installing sprinklers will lower your insurance premiums.
They Will Go Off Accidentally
This is a common misconception of fire sprinklers. People feel that regular cooking, burned food, or candles can cause sprinklers to activate. This is not the case. Sprinklers activate when exposed to excessive heat that would accompany a fire and not just from an oven being opened while cooking. Another belief is that if one sprinkler goes off then all sprinklers will and drench everything in a house. Only sprinklers in closest contact to a fire will activate though and in the case of a fire usually one sprinkler can extinguish the blaze.
Smoke Alarms are Enough Protection
This misconception seems to focus on saving lives more than property. Alarms alert residents to a fire inside the building but do nothing to try and extinguish it. Sprinklers not only try to put out a fire, but also reduce heat and smoke as well. Just having alarms reduces the chance of fatalities in a fire by roughly 30%. Sprinklers in a room reduce the death risk in a fire by about 80%
They Need Expensive Maintenance Often
Home fire sprinklers are designed now to be simple and easy to manage. They vary greatly from sprinklers that are used in commercial buildings. The main inspection and maintenance of home systems involve visually checking the sprinkler heads for obstructions and making sure the main control valve stays on.
Not Practical in Colder Climates
With proper installation of the correct system for your climate, this is nothing for home owners to worry about. Cold weather fire sprinklers are designed to have the proper insulation and potentially an antifreeze agent in the water to combat low temperatures. Chicago is a cold weather city that has been very progressive with sprinkler mandates on new home construction. They have had little to no problems with pipes freezing or bursting from cold.
For more information on fire sprinklers and fire life safety protection, please check out our blog.