From lightning-quick internet access to next-day shipping, speed provides a tremendous amount of convenience to our lives. But it isn’t always a good thing, because, as the old saying goes, it can also kill – true on the roads, as well as in the home.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 358,300 residential structure fires take place each year. Working smoke detectors have proven to be lifelines, as most people escape from their homes unharmed. However, as recently reported by NBC’s “Today,” the speed with which fires move – and the interior setup of many families’ homes – leaves no room for error. Back in the 1980s, residents had approximately 15 minutes to get out of their homes safely when fires broke out. Since then, families have no more than five minutes to escape before they risk their well-being.
The morning news program talks about why this is the case, but above all else, it hammers home the message for why installing a residential sprinkler system is a smart move that can save you money or even your life.
Cooking – the most common source of home fires
Deaths from structure fires are frighteningly common. Every year, around 2,560 people are killed in these fires, almost all of them – 93% – occurring in the home, according to the NFPA’s analysis. Cooking is the leading cause of these devastating events, 19% of which are deadly and 44% lead to injury.
Home sprinkler systems have consistently proven to be families’ saving grace. Studies show that the risk of death is slashed by 80% when a home is outfitted with fire sprinklers, mainly because the water spigots that are triggered help quarantine a blaze to wherever the flames originated.
While the loss of life is clearly the costliest element to structure fires, they’re extremely expensive to recover from, both in medical expenses and repairs. The NFPA estimates that $6.7 billion is lost per year to home fires. However, sprinklers cut medical expenses from fire injuries 53% and overall fire-related casualties 41%.
Fire sprinklers highly affordable, accurate
Among the most frequently cited justification for not installing sprinklers is the expense, not to mention the time it takes to set them up. But you may be surprised to learn that sprinklers cost around $1.35 per sprinklered foot, which NFPA notes averages out to be right around the price of installing a heated bathtub or repaving a driveway.
Water damage is responsible for more property loss than any other risk, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. So the mere chance of fire sprinklers going off after a false alarm – dousing the floors and furniture below with copious amounts of water – may be another disincentive to installation. However, experts point out that sprinkler technology and intelligence has improved dramatically by having a greater ability to distinguish between heat from actual flame versus the kind from smoke, according to the NFPA.
It’s facts like these that have municipalities jumping aboard the fire sprinkler bandwagon. In the state of Washington, for instance, the town of Camas passed an ordinance last April requiring newly built one- and two-family residences be equipped with sprinklers, according to the Camas-Washougal Post-Record.
Washington isn’t the only place where sprinklers in recently built residences are mandatory. According to the Fire Sprinkler Initiative, similar legislation is on the books in California, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, now in effect for six years for all new residences.
From saving lives to saving money – both in homeowners insurance as well as repair costs – fire sprinklers are the best way to keep damaging flames at bay. To find out more, visit NFPA’s website or speak to your insurer about how you may be able to reduce your premiums.