Home Fire Sprinklers, Why your Opinion of them May be all Wet!

Fire SafetyWhen some think of residential fire sprinklers, they may have some incorrect ideas. This short message is intended to dispel some of the myths and provide some good information related to residential fire sprinklers; the reality may be very different from what you perceive.

A fact from the National Fire Protection Administration (NFPA): “The risk of dying (In a residential fire) decreases by about 80% when the home is equipped with a fire sprinkler system.” This is an incredible fact, but the negative perception of fire sprinklers has at times overshadowed the reality. Let’s discuss how fire sprinkler systems really work.

Water comes into your home from a municipal water system or from a well and goes to your sinks, showers, toilets, lawns, etc. You have a network of piping that carries this water throughout your home. Fire sprinklers utilize this same water. Each room in your home will have at least one sprinkler head, which delivers water to control the fire.

As a fire begins to burn, smoke starts to fill the home. Smoke will not set off sprinkler heads – this is a major misconception. Burnt popcorn, fried foods, or smoking (MBIntel discourages smoking indoors) will not set off sprinkler heads. Only heat at an individual sprinkler head will set the sprinkler off.

As the fire increases, heat begins to rise to the ceiling level. When the temperature at the sprinkler head reaches a predetermined level, the head will operate. When one head operates, it does not set off any other heads. Unfortunately, in many movies it shows all of the sprinkler heads going off at the same time; this is not a reality. When one head opens up, it begins to cool and typically extinguish the fire. Another sprinkler head will open only if the fire continues to grow, and the temperature at that head reaches the predetermined temperature.

A question we often hear is, “Won’t that open head cause water damage?” Yes it will, but the fire will be held in check and often extinguished before the arrival of the fire department. If the fire is allowed to grow without a fire sprinkler activation, an average of 10 times more water is likely to be used by the fire department once they arrive to fight the fire. The fire would also have grown larger, causing more damage and endangering the lives of those in the home. In short, it is better that a single area of the home be damaged by water (it was going to be damaged by fire anyway) than to incur much more damage and possible loss of life due to an uncontrolled fire.

Many feel that fire sprinklers are ascetically unpleasant. While we cannot say that you will not see them, we can say they may not look as bad as you think. Most of us think of the 6” metal sprinkler head hanging out of the ceiling that we commonly see in public buildings and businesses. However, residential sprinkler heads are much smaller, can be recessed into the ceiling, and are often hidden behind an access panel. They typically can be made to match the colors of your home. This makes them much more ascetically pleasing than their commercial counterparts.

MBIntel encourages you to install a residential fire sprinkler system in your home, and to consider buying or building your next home with them installed. With a fire sprinkler system in your home, it is like having a firefighter ready to go into action 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. MBIntel feels that having a fire sprinkler system, in conjunction with smoke alarms, is the best option you can find to protect your home and its occupants from the danger of fire.