Sprinklers Provide Best Chance for Surviving a House Fire

by : ARA Content

(ARA) - Although it's impossible to put a dollar value on a human life -- especially the life of a loved one -- the reality is that the decision to purchase many life-saving products often comes down to cost.

For the amount of money it would cost to upgrade your choice of carpeting in your new home, you could protect your family and possibly even your home from a fire. Think you can do without the added protection in your home? You might want to rethink the option.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 5,000 people die each year in the U.S. because of fires -- an average of 14 per day. In addition, more than 28,000 people are injured in fires each year -- 70 percent of them in private homes. Those most at risk include children, the handicapped and the elderly. In addition to the loss of life, every year fires cause $8.5 billion in property damage.

Smoke detectors are an excellent start. Yet, they only give warning of a fire; they do nothing to extinguish it. Fire professionals confirm that how a fire is addressed within the first four minutes can mean the difference between life and death. In an unprotected environment, just four minutes after a fire has erupted, it is out of control. But in a home protected by a fire sprinkler system, the fire can be contained and controlled immediately to dramatically reduce personal injury from both the fire itself, as well as the resulting toxic fumes.

When used in combination, smoke detectors and sprinklers can reduce the loss of life up to 98.5 percent -- an increase of 48.5 percent over smoke detectors alone. Given such strong evidence, why aren't more new homes being equipped with a fire sprinkler system?

One reason may be lack of awareness. Residential fire sprinkler systems are not top-of-mind for most consumers who are faced with a myriad of product choices for their new homes. Builders are quick to discuss the choice of faucets, fixtures and windows, but often don't address the benefits or added costs of home security and safety systems.

Second is the perception that fire sprinklers are expensive. In reality, home fire sprinkler systems are often as cost efficient as a cabinet or carpeting upgrade. Nationally, the expense averages 1 percent to 1.5 percent of the total building cost when they are installed during new home construction, which is the easiest and least expensive time for installation. Sprinklers can, however, be retrofitted into existing homes.

A third problem is that older sprinkler heads were ugly. However, modern fire sprinkler fixtures are inconspicuous, since they are mounted flush with walls and ceilings. Some sprinklers can even be concealed. And, of course, like regular plumbing, pipes are always hidden behind the ceiling or walls.

Another misperception is that sprinklers might go off accidentally and cause tremendous water damage. In reality, the odds are approximately 1 in 16 million that a fire sprinkler will go off unnecessarily. And, contrary to popular belief, only a real fire -- not just cigarette smoke -- will activate a fire prevention system. If a fire breaks out, a fire sprinkler will control a fire with a fraction of the water used by fire fighters. This is because a sprinkler activates during the early stages of a fire and only in the immediate area of the fire -- usually with just one sprinkler operating to avoid widespread water damage.

Once you've made the decision to invest in a life-saving fire sprinkler system, be aware that not all systems offer the same level of reliability and cost effectiveness. CPVC (post-chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), which has proven superior for many general plumbing applications, is also becoming the material of choice for residential and commercial fire sprinkler systems. BlazeMaster fire sprinkler systems are an example of a CPVC system that is designed to have a 50-year life expectancy, with a safety factor of two. Although less expensive than metal systems, BlazeMaster CPVC fire sprinkler systems are more durable. Unlike steel systems, CPVC systems can be fabricated on site, so any blueprint changes can be accommodated immediately.

To learn more about options for protecting your family and your home from a fire, visit www.blazemaster.com or contact your local fire sprinkler contractor.