June 15th, 2008 by Residential Fire Sprinklers .com
by Jules Norwood – Lumina News
In 2006, the most recent year for which data is available, fires claimed the lives of 3,245 civilians in the United States, more than all natural disasters combined. Wrightsville Beach Fire Chief Frank Smith said that number is way too high, and one of the best ways to prevent fire deaths and damage is the use of residential sprinkler systems.
While an ordinance mandating the installation of sprinklers in new homes would require a legislation change at the state level and isn’t a likely possibility, Smith, along with a variety of fire protection agencies, is promoting the increased use of the systems through public awareness and lobbying.
“Locally, where we are is we want to make sure that we get good information out to the public and dispel some of the myths,” he said. “We want to get the facts out there so people can make good decisions, and we want to encourage these voluntary installations, because we’re absolutely convinced in the fire service that these things do what they’re supposed to do and save lives. The number of fire fatalities that we see in the United States is still entirely too high, and this is a real, viable means to reduce that number.”
One of the most common misconceptions, he said, is that all of the sprinkler heads will go off at the same time, flooding the home. In reality, each head is activated individually by heat, and 90 percent of fires in sprinkled homes are contained by the first sprinkler head, so the rest never go off.
Another misconception involves the cost of the systems. “One of our volunteer firefighters over on Harbor Island installed a system in a portion of his home when he was doing a renovation, and (cost) really was a non-issue,” Smith said.
In addition, fire service agencies are working to create a proposal to create a license that would allow plumbers to install residential sprinkler systems, so that the same plumber could install the domestic plumbing and the sprinkler system, simplifying the process and cutting the cost of installation even further.
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