Home fire sprinklers put out fires, save lives


With the concern of the rapidly rising rate of fire fatalities in North Carolina, the Department of Insurance, which houses the Office of State Fire Marshal and Safe Kids NC along with the NC Fire Sprinkler Coalition will demonstrate how home fire sprinklers can save lives, are better for the environment, and help keep firefighters safe.

On Saturday, May 19th at the Got to Be N.C. Festival held at the N.C. State Fairgrounds, NCDOI and OSFM will host Home Fire Sprinkler Day and set on fire two rooms – the first, with sprinklers. The other, without. The live burn event scheduled for noon near the grandstands area at the N.C. State Fairgrounds is designed to raise awareness of the growing dangers of home fires and the life-saving benefits of installing fire sprinklers in new homes.

“Today’s new houses are built with lightweight construction, open designs and are filled with synthetic furnishings,” said Commissioner Causey who also serves as the State Fire Marshal. “When these homes burn, they fail fast, and that environment places firefighters at risk from fire as well as toxins that lead to disease. Sprinklers can put out that fire and save lives before most departments are even dispatched,” Causey added.

This national side-by-side live burn/sprinkler event is initiated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC).

Home Fire Sprinkler Day is an opportunity for North Carolina residents to learn about the lifesaving technology of fire sprinklers.

Facts about home fire sprinklers

  • Since 2009, the installation of fire sprinklers has been required for new construction of homes by all U.S. model building codes. California, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and hundreds of U.S. communities have adopted this requirement. Challenges to adoption exist in many other states.
  • Fire sprinkler installation in homes lags behind installation in other properties with lower fire death rates, such as schools, hospitals, and hotels. They lag in part due to myths, confusion, and opposition by some groups.
  • Modern home fire sprinklers are inexpensive to install ($1.35 per sprinklered sq. ft., nationally – NFPA).
  • Fire sprinklers reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by 80 percent, and reduce the risk of property damage by 70 percent (NFPA).
  • Because the sprinkler responds to the fire automatically and while it is still small, it controls the fire until the fire department arrives, slowing the spread of heat and poisonous smoke.
  • Home fire sprinklers give residents more time to escape a fire safely. That prevents injuries and saves lives.
  • The sprinkler controls fire damage and confines it. That protects lives as well as surrounding rooms, limiting property damage.
  • Responding firefighters work in far less dangerous conditions when a home fire is controlled by a fire sprinkler.
  • Fire sprinklers are usually supplied by the household water main. A tank and pump can be used where needed. They can be used in any climate. As with other plumbing, the piping is hidden behind walls and ceilings. Sprinkler covers can be used to conceal sprinklers.
  • Home fire sprinklers operate individually. In a fire, the sprinkler closest to it activates. In the vast majority of home fires just one sprinkler is needed to control the flames.
  • Sprinklers are activated by the high temperature of a fire – typically between 135-165F. Cooking fumes or signaling smoke alarms cannot activate sprinklers.
  • Home fire sprinklers are designed to flow between 10-25 gallons of water per minute, 10-15 times less water flow than fire department hoses, with far less pressure.

For more information about home fire sprinklers and fire safety, visit the OSFM website.


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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.