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Injury Prevention


Home Fire Sprinklers - FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Residential Sprinklers

Do I need sprinklers if I already have smoke alarms on every floor?

That’s a good start... but smoke alarms only warn you of a fire they do not control the fire. Smoke alarms do nothing to extinguish a growing fire or protect those physically unable to escape on their own, such as the elderly or small children. After the alarm sounds you still have to react and escape therefore placing yourself at great risk of injury or even death. The best protection from fire is to have both smoke alarms and a residential sprinkler system.

Will sprinklers affect my household insurance policies?

Generally insurance rates will go down because fire sprinklers will keep damage low. You will need to contact your insurance company. These systems are becoming more popular and their benefits are slowly being realized by insurance companies. Shop around; the savings vary by insurance company.

In the event of a fire, will there be lots of water damage from the sprinklers?

There will be water, but much, much less damage than will be caused by a fire or by the water used by the fire service. A residential sprinkler flows 10 to 26 gallons per minute for approximately 10 minutes. The fire department uses hoses that flow 250 gallons per minute or more; often 10 times the water used by a residential sprinkler. The property loss in a home with residential sprinklers is only a fraction of the loss in a home with no sprinklers.
View a demonstration of how Fire Sprinklers Reduce Water Damage.

Is there any chance the sprinklers will go off accidentally?

The modern systems that are used are manufactured and tested to the highest standards and are designed to be installed in the home. The chances of an accidental actuation have been estimated at 1:16,000,000 (one in sixteen million).

Are sprinkler systems practical in the colder climates of NC where the pipes will freeze and cause water damage?

Specially molded insulation is available to protect pipes in unheated attics. Sidewall sprinklers are also available so that the piping is placed in the interior walls and not exposed to cold attics and exposure. There is no unique danger of freezing with sprinkler systems that does not already exist with domestic water systems.

I live in a rural part of NC, what if my home is on a well or will not be connected to a public water supply?

Homes can be protected by automatic fire sprinklers in even the most remote areas. A water tank can be installed to supply your domestic water and also installed to supply your residential fire sprinkler systems. These tanks are designed to fit in your garage or another storage area of the home, and they hold enough water to supply a sprinkler system, domestic water system or both.

In the movies if one sprinkler goes off, they all go off…is that how it really happens?

No! Fire sprinklers do not go off all at once. That is Hollywood’s version. They are individually activated by the heat from a fire, and 90% of fires are stopped by a single sprinkler head. Only the sprinkler(s) closest to the fire will activate.

If I burn the toast and the smoke alarm goes off will the sprinkler activate?

Sprinklers are activated by heat. Smoke from any source including cooking will not activate the sprinkler. Smoke, cooking vapors or steam cannot cause the sprinklers to activate – sprinklers only operate in response to the high temperature of a fire.

How do I maintain a residential sprinkler system?

Maintenance is a snap. Sprinklers require very little maintenance. It’s essential to keep the water valve turned on, and, inspect the pipes and sprinklers occasionally to make sure nothing is obstructing them.