- Automatic fire sprinklers have been in use in the U.S. since 1874.
- Fire sprinklers are widely recognized as the single most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in
their early stages - before they can cause severe injury to people and damage to property.
- When one fire sprinkler head goes off to fight a fire the entire sprinkler system does NOT activate.
Sprinklers react to temperatures in individual rooms.
- The chances of a fire sprinkler accidentally going off are extremely remote.
- Installation of fire sprinklers can provide discounts on insurance premiums.
- The costs for installing fire sprinkler systems in buildings 6 to 8 stories high ranges from under a
dollar to about $2.00 per square foot in most new construction and from about $1.50 to $2.50 per
square foot for retrofitting sprinklers in existing buildings.
- The installation of fire sprinklers in new residential construction is estimated to make up around 1% of
the total building cost. (Similar to the cost of new carpet)
- Over 200 U.S. communities have residential sprinkler laws. Roughly 100 of these communities are in
California. In downtown Fresno for example, there has been fire damage of only $42,000 during a
10-year period in which its sprinklering law has been in effect.
- According to the National Fire Protection Association, property damage in hotel fires was 78%
less in structures with sprinklers than it was in structures without sprinklers during the years
1983-87. (Average loss per fire was $2,300 in sprinklered buildings and $10,300 in unsprinklered
- Nearly half of all hotels and motels, according to a 1988 survey by NFPA, have sprinkler
- NFPA has no record of a fire killing more than two people in a completely sprinklered building
where the system was properly operating, except in an explosion or flash fire or where industrial fire
brigade members or employees were killed during fire suppression operations.
The National Fire Protection Association outlines
several major strategies that are key to reductions
in fire losses and especially in home fire deaths,
which are 78.3% of the total fire deaths. They are:
- More, and more widespread, public fire safety education on how to prevent fires and how to avoid serious injury
or death if fire occurs.
- Residential fire safety initiatives remain the key to reductions in the overall fire death toll.
- Wider use and proper maintenance of smoke detectors, coupled with practiced home escape plans.
- Wider use of residential sprinklers.
- Additional efforts to make home products more fire-safe, such as less fire-prone cigarettes and
- Addressing the special protection needs of high-risk groups, such as the young, older adults and the
MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT AUTOMATIC FIRE SPRINKLERS
Automatic sprinkler systems have enjoyed an enviable record of protecting life
and property for over 100 years. Yet, there are still common misunderstandings about the operation
and effectiveness of automatic fire sprinkler systems:
"Water damage from a sprinkler system will
be more extensive than fire damage."
Fact: Water damage from a home sprinkler system will
be much less severe than the damage caused by water
from fire-fighting hose lines or smoke and fire
damage if the fire goes unabated. Quick response
sprinklers release 8-24 gallons of water per minute
compared to 50-125 gallons per minute released by a
"When a fire occurs, every sprinkler head
Fact: Sprinkler heads are individually activated by
fire. Residential fires are usually controlled with
one sprinkler head. 90% of all fires are controlled
with six or fewer heads and a study conducted in
Australia and New Zealand covering 82 years of
automatic sprinkler use found that 82% of the fires
which occurred were controlled by two or fewer
"A smoke detector provides enough
Fact: Smoke detectors save lives by providing a warning
system but can do nothing to extinguish a growing
fire or protect those physically unable to escape on
their own, such as the elderly or small children.
Too often, battery operated smoke detectors fail to
function because the batteries are dead or have been
removed. As the percent of homes in America that
were "protected" with smoke detectors increased from
zero to more than 70%, the number of fire deaths in
homes did not significantly decrease.
"Sprinklers are designed to protect
property, but are not effective for life safety."
Fact: Sprinklers provide a high level of life safety.
Statistics demonstrate that there has never been any
multiple loss of life in a fully sprinklered
building. Property losses are 85% less in residences
with fire sprinklers compared to those without
sprinklers. The combination of automatic sprinklers
and early warning systems in all buildings and
residences could reduce overall injuries, loss of
life and property damage by at least 50%.
with permission from the American Fire Sprinkler