The benefits of automatic fire sprinkler systems should be obvious. Unfortunately, the industry still faces opposition on the way they operate, the cost of the system and the overall effectiveness. Major misconceptions about fire sprinkler systems continue to show their face despite ample information that dispels these rumors. Here are some common myths about the systems and the reasons why they are incorrect.
Myth #1: Water damage from a sprinkler system will be more extensive than fire damage.
Fact: Water damage from a fire sprinkler system is generally much less severe than the damage caused by water from fire-fighting hose lines or smoke and fire damage if the fire goes unabated. For example, in residences with fire sprinklers, property losses are 85 percent less when compared to those without sprinklers. Quick response sprinklers release 13-24 gallons of water per minute compared to 100-250 gallons per minute released by a fire hose.
Myth #2: A smoke detector is enough protection.
Fact: Smoke detectors can save lives by providing a warning system. But it does nothing to extinguish a fire or protect those physically unable to escape on their own, such as the elderly or small children. Though nearly 90 percent of U.S. homes have at least one smoke detector, only 60 percent have working detectors, often because of dead or missing batteries.
Myth #3: When a fire occurs, every sprinkler goes off.
Fact: Unlike what is often mistakenly portrayed in the movies, sprinklers are individually activated by heat. Residential fires are usually controlled with one operating sprinkler. Ninety percent of all commercial fires are controlled with six or fewer sprinklers.
Myth #4: Automatic fire sprinkler systems are too expensive.
Fact: The cost associated with installing an automatic fire sprinkler system depends on several factors, such as the location, size, and type of construction and intended use of the structure. Typically, the cost of installing a system during the construction of a new home ranges between 1 to 11/2 percent of the total cost of the home. That is about the same cost as upgrading your choice of carpeting. But, sprinklers give the added value of a lifesaving feature. Installing a typical wet pipe sprinkler system in a new office building is about 5 percent of the total building cost.
As you can see no matter if you are a commercial or residential location, it is usually much less expensive to install a system than to replace and/or repair the damage caused by a fire in a building that is not protected with sprinklers.