Fire sprinklers are an essential component of fire safety systems. They detect and extinguish fires before they can cause significant damage or harm to people. But how do you know when a home or commercial building needs fire sprinklers, and what does that installation process look like?
Fire Sprinkler Requirements
Whether or not your building needs fire sprinklers depends on several factors, from the building size and occupancy to local building codes and risk tolerance. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets standards for fire protection in NFPA 13. These guidelines are national requirements, but states or municipalities may have other rules. You will need fire sprinklers for:
- New commercial buildings (5000 square feet or larger)
- Structures 55 feet tall or higher
- Commercial property remodels that add 12,000 square feet.
- Self-storage buildings (excluding one-story facilities without an indoor corridor)
However, existing buildings may not have to install fire sprinklers if they undergo significant renovations or changes in occupancy.
Home Fire Sprinklers
Homeowners may also wonder if they need fire sprinklers in their new space. The International Residential Code sets standards for one- and two-family dwellings and recommends fire sprinklers for new homes. But only two states, Maryland and California, mandate fire sprinklers in new residential construction. Other states require sprinklers for larger homes or allow cities to set their standards. Local building codes can also determine if you need sprinklers in your area.
Even if your building does not require fire sprinklers, installing them is still a good idea. Fire sprinklers save lives. Fire deaths are 89% lower in buildings with sprinklers than in properties without fire extinguishing systems. They also save your property, sparing 98.7% of the value of buildings and contents. Having a sprinkler system can also reduce your insurance or increase the value of your home.
Benefits of Installing Fire Sprinklers
Installing fire sprinklers in your home or office building can provide several benefits, including:
Early Detection and Suppression of Fires
Fire sprinklers detect and extinguish fires before they can cause significant damage or harm to people. They can quickly extinguish a fire in its early stages, preventing it from spreading and causing more damage.
Reduced Risk of Fire-Related Injuries and Fatalities
Fire sprinklers can significantly reduce the risk of fire-related injuries and fatalities. They can extinguish a fire before it can cause harm to people, giving them time to evacuate the building safely.
Lower Insurance Premiums
Installing fire sprinklers in your home or office building can lower your insurance premiums. Many insurance companies offer discounts for facilities with fire sprinklers because they are less likely to suffer significant damage in a fire.
Increased Property Value
Installing fire sprinklers in your home or office building can increase its value. Buildings with fire sprinklers are more attractive to buyers because they provide additional safety and protection.
How Sprinklers Work
Fire sprinklers are effective because they keep fires from spreading. It’s a common misconception that smoke activates a fire sprinkler. Heat triggers a sprinkler. When the area beneath the sprinkler head reaches 155 degrees, the sprinkler releases pressurized water. Most of the time, the sprinkler closest to the fire is the only one that activates.
You can install sprinklers during construction or add them later for added protection.
Partner With Fire Sprinkler Experts
Installing fire sprinklers requires careful planning and execution. Find a company with expertise in fire sprinkler design and construction. For example, A&A Fire Protection has experts in building codes and project design. Their projects have ranged from historic structures to new construction and even yurts (round tents). They’ll work with your contractors to offer design-build solutions that save money.
Once you’ve installed a sprinkler system, keep it ready for emergencies. Schedule routine inspections and have professionals do maintenance, like pressure and drain checks.
Considering Fire Sprinklers? Here’s What to Do
Fire sprinklers are essential to fire safety systems in homes and commercial buildings. They can help prevent the spread of fire, reduce property damage, and save lives. If you plan to construct a new building or renovate an existing one, get expert help. Start with research on fire sprinkler systems. Then, partner with specialists in designing and installing fire suppression systems.