Every year nearly 4,000 Americans die in home fires and approximately 25,000 are injured. Children and the elderly are especially at risk in home fires because they are less able to escape when fire strikes. One way to protect those who cannot escape quickly, and at the same time protect your home and belongings, is by installing sprinklers.
Like the fire sprinklers found in most commercial buildings, residential sprinklers stand ready 24 hours a day to detect and suppress fires before they can become a threat to lives or property. As life safety devices, residential fire sprinklers are designed to react more quickly than their commercial cousins and thus need less water to do their work. Each sprinkler operates independently, so only those in the affected area go off. Most home fires are extinguished by one or two sprinklers with only a small amount of water.
Fire sprinklers require a reliable source of water; either a city water connection or a storage tank with at least 100 gallons and a pump. Sprinklers can share a common supply and piping with the domestic water system, reducing cost but requiring additional storage capacity.
Many manufactured home suppliers offer fire sprinklers as an option. Where sprinklers are installed after the home is constructed, it is important to use a qualified designer and installer. For example, sloped or beamed ceilings require special design and installation considerations. Look for a certified fire sprinkler contractor.
Fire sprinkler systems require periodic maintenance and inspection. This is not a do-it-yourself job and should be left to a qualified contractor. Never paint sprinklers, it can prevent them from operating in a fire.
If you have fire sprinklers you may be eligible for a discount on your property insurance. Ask your agent.
Don't Forget the Smoke Alarms
Even though fire sprinklers are effective life safety devices you still need smoke alarms. Some fires can begin as smoldering fires that produce smoke and gases but don’t generate enough heat to activate the sprinklers. Smoke alarms are needed to provide warning for these situations.