Common Questions About Fire Sprinkler Systems

fire-sprinklerAutomatic 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 discuss concerns with an agent.

Question: Are fire sprinklers really effective?
Answer: 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.

Question: When did fire sprinklers first appear?
Answer: People have been using automatic sprinklers since the 1870s.

Question: Is there a risk of accidental discharge with fire sprinklers?
Answer: 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.

Question: Does research prove the effectiveness of sprinklers?
Answer: A study conducted in 2001 showed that these devices were effective and useful. The entire report is available from the National Fire Protection Association. Experts also point out that a city in Arizona has required residential buildings to have fire sprinklers for more than 15 years.

Question: What is the cost of a fire sprinkler system?
Answer: The cost of these systems is usually determined per square foot, and the price per unit can vary widely. 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. For example, a system installed in a cold climate with low water pressure and an undependable water supply will cost more than a system installed in a warm climate with a good water supply and water pressure. It is also cheaper to have new systems installed instead of having retrofitted components installed. The cost difference is about $1 per square foot.

Question: After a fire sprinkler is activated, does excessive water damage follow?
Answer: Fire 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.

Question: Why are sprinklers not required in every state?
Answer: 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.

Question: Do fire sprinklers have to be professionally installed?
Answer: Sprinkler systems must be installed in compliance with local and state ordinances or codes. In some cases, homeowners may be permitted to install their own systems. However, this is not a simple DIY project to complete over the span of one weekend. In some areas, local codes may prohibit the average person from installing his or her own system. Many states require contractors who are licensed to install these systems.

Question: Do federal laws require fire sprinklers?
Answer: There was an act passed in the 1990s to protect the property and lives of people staying in motels and hotels from fires. The law requires federal employees traveling on business to stay in public places that are in accordance with fire safety standards. In addition to this, federal meetings and conferences must be held in places that meet these standards.

About Brian Hendricks

Brian Hendricks is the President of Fidelity Insurance Group. Brian started Fidelity in 2003 with 0 clients. Today Fidelity Insurance Group is a Premier Independent Insurance Agency in Florida with over 3,000 families and businesses insured. Brian currently serves on advisory boards for 2 of the largest property insurance companies in Florida. Knowlege, Integrity, and Committment are his and his agency's guiding principles.
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