I want to start by emphasizing the importance of NFPA 13D in providing an affordable, efficient fire sprinkler system for home installation. These systems are designed for life safety and may mean the difference between survival and death.
NFPA 13D allows designers and installers to rely on a system that improves liability and saves the homeowner money. With incentives, such as; insurance savings and real estate tax relief – as is the case in Illinois – in seven to ten years it could pay for itself.
Flexibility in design, smaller water supply requirements and less material translates into savings when designing and installing a system complying with NFPA 13D.
The standard has evolved over the years to recognize newer technology and provides the ability to use the existing plumbing line.
The hydraulic calculations provided in NFPA 13D are intended to prove that the system will work, without the necessity of over sizing the system. In my opinion, the plumbing code uses a one size fits all approach which tends to oversize piping and water supply, increasing costs. The piping schedule in NFPA 13D is much like the plumbing code.
For plumbers interested in becoming installers, the standard provides ease of use. The plumbing code provides both options; but the installer is referred to NFPA 13D to determine the correct calculations. Plumbers must be trained in NFPA 13D to take advantage of the savings using hydraulic calculations.
A future trend that will revolutionize NFPA 13D installations is the in-home private water supply concept; which avoids the expense for the additional tap and other capricious costs from water utility
providers. Having your own water supply provides piece of mind and the pump and tank systems have become very affordable.
About the author: Cecil Bilbo is president of The Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology, serving as Director of Engineering Technology. Mr. Bilbo has more than twenty five years of experience in the fire sprinkler industry. He has been a contributing author to the NFSA's textbook for layout technicians, NFPA 3 – Commissioning of Fire and Life Safety Systems Handbook, and NFPA 13 – Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems Handbook.