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New Guide Clears Up Confusion About Home Fire Sprinkler Water Supply & Usage

In communities across the U.S. and Canada, a growing number of one- and two-family homes are being built with fire sprinkler systems. But when questions and confusion arise about water supply, they can hamper installations and result in needless costs to homeowners.

To answer common questions about sprinkler technology and provide detailed information about its life-safety and environmental benefits, the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) has developed Understanding Water Supply for Home Fire Sprinkler Systems, funded by a FEMA Fire Prevention & Safety Grant.

Fire sprinklers work similarly regardless of the structure, but water connections, supply and usage are significantly different for homes than for industrial and commercial systems. Frequently, water authorities aren’t as familiar with residential systems, however, and therefore have questions and concerns about the water they require.

“There has been a clear and growing need for better understanding about fire sprinkler systems in homes and water supply for several years,” says HFSC President Gary Keith. “In particular, misinformation within the water industry results in unnecessary and costly sprinkler add-ons and unfair fees that penalize homeowners who just want greater fire protection for their families.”

Protecting homes from fires is essential. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nine out of every 10 structure fire deaths occur in the home. Fire sprinklers detect a fire in its early stages and automatically flow water on the flames, controlling deadly heat and smoke, and preventing flashover. Their fast action provides residents with the time they need to safely escape — even young children, older adults and people with disabilities.

The National Institute of Standards & Technology reports that today’s new homes feature open spaces and are filled with synthetic furnishings and products, resulting in houses burning hotter and faster. And tests conducted by UL show modern construction materials, such as unprotected lightweight wood construction products, burn faster and fail sooner in a fire.

“Water suppliers need the facts about home fires and the unique protection that fire sprinklers provide to residents and firefighters,” Keith adds. “When they also understand the huge water savings that fire sprinklers provide, they will encourage the installations. That’s the way it should be in every community.”

A 2010 study by FM Global proved that fire sprinklers reduce water usage to fight a fire by upwards of 90% compared to responding fire departments, reduce water pollution, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 98%, and reduce fire damage by 97%.

These are great turnkey tools for the fire service, water suppliers and local officials,” says HFSC communications manager Peg Paul. “We worked with the American Water Works Association to ensure that our materials are timely and address the questions and issues most relevant to their industry.”

Understanding Water Supply for Home Fire Sprinkler Systems includes a comprehensive DVD video that provides an overview of residential sprinkler systems and a full explanation of water supply, connections and usage. It features several local fire and water officials who share their own experience with the systems locally. A detailed brochure complements the information within the DVD.

Download or order the free materials on HFSC’s website.

 

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