21 May A New Trend in Home Construction
What’s one of the hottest trends in home construction? You might think it’s a modern aesthetic, a neutral gray paint color, or that white cabinetry that’s all the rage on HGTV. No, it has nothing to do with home décor – we’re talking about home and family safety. Take a tour of a model home in many states and look up at the ceiling. You may notice something new, or you may not notice anything at all!
A fire in the home poses one of the biggest threats to families and their belongings. More than 358,000 home fires occur each year, killing 2,500 people and injuring 13,000 others. Why aren’t fire alarms enough to combat the death toll? Smoke alarms alert occupants to the presence of danger but do nothing to extinguish the fire. So, what can be done to decrease the death toll and property damage in a residence? Enter the newest trend in home construction – home fire sprinklers. In a fire, sprinklers can control and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive. Sprinklers are a proven way decrease damage to the structure and property and increase the survival rate.
Many jurisdictions across the country are enacting laws that mandate home fire sprinklers be installed in new construction. Most modern homes are designed with open floor plans, and lightweight construction materials. In a fire, an open floor plan and lightweight construction materials, burn quicker and fail faster. New homes often contain modern furnishings made of synthetic materials which, in a fire, can create a highly toxic environment, greater fuel load, and faster fire propagation.
There are several myths about home fire sprinklers. You may have heard that sprinklers leak, or go off accidentally, and if a fire occurs, every sprinkler in the home will activate and ruin everything. Other myths include sprinklers are simply too expensive or will ruin the décor of the home or that water damage will be worse than fire damage. The idea that sprinklers leak or activate accidentally has not been proven. Leaks are very rare and are no more likely than leaks from a home’s plumbing system. A sprinkler is calibrated to activate when it senses a significant heat change. They don’t operate in response to smoke, cooking vapors, steam, or the sound of a smoke alarm. In the event of a fire, typically only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire, leaving the rest of the house dry and secure. Roughly 85% of the time, just one sprinkler operates. New home fire sprinkler models are very unobtrusive, can be mounted flush with walls or ceilings, and can be concealed behind decorative covers. For new home construction, the average cost to install a home fire suppression system is $1.35 per ft2. When you take this into consideration with the overall cost of a new home, this amount is insignificant to protect your family, home and all belongings.
“I was pleasantly surprised to have the sprinklers in my new home. The system reduced my home owner’s insurance and when it was time to sell, potential buyers liked it – it was a selling point. I liked the extra piece of mind” said Bonnie, a homeowner who purchased a new construction home in Henderson, Nevada. Bonnie also reported that her system was part of the package of things presented, like energy star windows, and a tankless water heater. “I never saw a cost breakdown, as it was bundled into the base price of the home.”
A recent success story included a home in California. A single sprinkler extinguished a fire in the kitchen of a single-family home that began when food left cooking unattended ignited. The single-story, wood-frame house, which covered 2,100 ft2had both smoke alarms and a wet-pipe sprinkler system. A water flow alarm alerted the home’s occupant, who was outside, that the sprinkler had activated. By the time he reentered the house the sprinkler had already extinguished the fire. Firefighters arrived within five minutes to find water throughout the kitchen and a melted microwave oven above the burned stove. The occupant said he began heating a pan of oil on the stove, then went outside and forgot about the pan. The house, valued at $635,000, sustained $63,000 in damages. There were no injuries.
The benefits of home fire sprinklers are spreading across the country. Statistics show if there is a fire in a residence, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present. Considering the purchase of a new home? Make sure to get the hottest trend (and safety) in new construction – a home fire suppression system.
Source: Nation Fire Protection Association (NFPA.org)