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Common Questions About Fire Sprinkler Systems

Automatic fire sprinkler systems can save lives and property in both residential and commercial settings. There are several common questions that arise when people consider installing these systems. This guide provides answers to most questions, but those who have further questions should call us.

Are fire sprinklers really effective?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are no records of fires resulting in more than two fatalities in areas that had adequate sprinkler coverage. In cases where fatalities resulted in buildings with sprinklers, the people who died were usually in direct contact with flames before the sprinklers were activated.

According to the 2017 “U.S. Experience with Sprinklers” study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association, sprinklers were effective in controlling the fire in 96% of the fires in which they operated.

Can sprinklers accidentally discharge?

The likelihood of a fire sprinkler being activated as a result of manufacturing defects is only about one in 16 million. Research shows that these devices have been consistently dependable. It is possible to activate sprinklers by accidental or intentional damage, but the likelihood of that happening is small.

How much does a fire sprinkler system cost?

On average, new commercial properties can expect to pay $1 to $2 per square foot, which includes both installation and equipment. Owners of older buildings shell out more to retrofit the property, typically $2 to $7 per square foot. Costs will vary by region and environmental factors.

Climate classification also affects the cost of a system, and both water supply and water pressure play roles in determining the overall cost of use.

Do sprinklers result in water damage?

Sprinklers are designed to eliminate fires in earlier stages, and the majority of fires can be controlled with only a few sprinklers.

These devices use much less water than the fire hoses use, so any water damage caused by a sprinkler will not be as bad as the water damage that would likely follow after a call to the local firefighters.

Why are sprinklers not required in every state?

The NFPA develops standards for installing fire sprinkler systems. Their standards vary greatly from one region to another based on occupancy rates and fire risk classifications.

While the standards are not considered laws by themselves, they do influence building procedures and are subject to change every few years.

States and local jurisdictions can adopt the requirements as laws if they choose to do so, and they become part of the building codes this way.

Are all sprinklers the same?

Commercial properties have four main sprinkler system options:

  • Pre-action sprinklers – These are ideal in buildings that house valuables, like art and public records. Water is not stored in the pipes and only travels through the pipes when the fire occurs.
  • Wet pipe sprinklers – These are best for high rise buildings, due to the low maintenance requirements. Water remains in the pipes to allow rapid response to a fire.
  • Dry pipe systems – These are perfect for warehouses without temperature control. Water is not stored in the pipes, so the pipes will never freeze and burst.
  • A deluge fire sprinklers – The system is triggered by smoke and heat detectors and is often used in facilities with highly combustible materials, like in oil refineries and chemical plants

Do I get a break on my insurance?

Building owners who install fire sprinkler systems in their commercial property receive steep reductions in their insurance premiums.

Depending on the type of building, insurance discounts range from 10% to as much as 60%. Experts point out that installing a fire sprinkler system pays for itself when factoring in the insurance premium deductions.