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Dispelling Myths About Residential Sprinkler Systems

Fire sprinklers have been used to protect commercial buildings for more than 100 years. More recently, new types of sprinkler systems have been developed for residences that offer superior levels of fire safety for both life and property.  However, many builders and homeowners think that sprinklers are too expensive and not worth installation.  Since May is National Building Safety Month, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) is highlighting the benefits of home sprinklers by dispelling these 5 common myths which you may not know about:

1.  When one sprinkler goes off, all the sprinklers activate.

The sprinkler heads react to temperatures in each room individually, allowing only the sprinkler closest to the fire to activate.  In fact, 90 percent of fires are contained by the operation of just one sprinkler.

2.  A sprinkler could go off accidentally, causing severe water damage to the home.

Records show that the likelihood of this occurring is very remote.  In addition, residential sprinklers are designed and tested to minimize accidents.

3.  Water damage from a sprinkler system will be more extensive than fire damage.

These systems use a fast-acting element to allow the sprinkler to activate when the fire is still in the early stages of development, thus limiting a fire's growth.  Therefore, damage from a residential sprinkler system will be much less severe than smoke and fire damage if the fire continued unabated or the water damage from fire hoses.  Residential sprinklers discharge water at a low rate, so the home will not be flooded.

4.  Home sprinkler systems are expensive.

According to the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the cost of a sprinkler system is about $1.61 per square foot of new construction.  To put that in perspective, that is roughly the same amount some homeowners pay for carpet upgrades or a whirlpool bath - neither of which can save lives.  In existing homes they range from $2.50 to $5.00 per square foot, depending on how difficult it is to run the pipes.

5.  Requiring residential fire sprinklers will inhibit new home construction.

A 2009 study conducted on behalf of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) compared residential home construction in four counties - two with sprinkler mandates and two without - and concluded the presence of sprinkler mandates did not have a negative effect on the number of homes being built.

Benefits of Sprinklers

A residential fire occurs every 87 seconds, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, with half of all fire deaths occurring between 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM.  Residential sprinklers can contain a fire and may even extinguish it before firefighters arrive. This provides valuable extra time to get everyone out of the house.  In fact, according to the NFPA sprinklers reduce civilian fire deaths by an estimated 83%; reduce direct property damage by more than two-thirds per fire, and are responsible for an estimated 65% reduction in firefighter injuries.

Residential sprinklers can save lives and prevent significant property damage.  And ServiceMaster Dynamic Cleaning can help if there is a fire event and the sprinklers have contained the damage.  Our fire restoration experts have the knowledge and technology to restore your home and possessions if a fire does happen.  Call (800) 865-5157 today.