A smoke alarm can detect a fire, but an automatic residential sprinkler system can take the next step and actually put that fire out. Studies by the United States Fire Administration (part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency) indicate that installing residential fire sprinkler systems could have saved thousands of lives and prevented a large percentage of fire-related injuries.
Fire loss figures are astounding—2,590 civilian fire deaths, 13,050 injuries, and $7.8 billion in property damage due to fires in 2009 alone. Considering their potential for saving lives and property, it's not hard to understand why residential sprinkler systems are becoming an increasingly popular part of homeowners' fire-prevention arsenals.
The idea of a built-in automatic sprinkler system may seem daunting, but they can usually be installed in new construction's piping or retrofit to the water supply of an existing home.
A key advantage of residential sprinklers is that they're specifically designed to react quickly, before fires have a chance to spread to multiple rooms. Newer residential sprinklers typically respond to a fire much faster than standard commercial and industrial sprinkler systems, limiting the fire's size and impact to a small area.
As soon as it's activated, sprinklers near the fire spray water on the burning object or area to control or extinguish the fire. The system doesn't deploy water from every sprinkler in your home —just the one nearest the fire, which helps control potential water damage to your home. This addresses another deadly aspect of fire—the water actually lowers the air temperature, potentially resulting in even fewer fire losses. Since residential sprinklers discharge water at low rate, water damage to your home is also minimized.
Installing a sprinkler system costs about $1.50 per square foot in new construction, and from $2.50-$5.00 per square foot in an existing home, depending on the complexity of the install.
One more important thing to keep in mind: installing or building with an automatic sprinkler system can help you save up to 15% on your Allstate homeowners insurance or condo insurance.