A recent article in Builder Magazine titled "Playing With Fire" eloquently summed up the concerns over today's new homes and the materials typically housed in them. Of equal importance is the article's directive to the homebuilding industry that it "needs to pay more attention" to today's fire protection measures, including home fire sprinklers, as fire threats at home continue to grow.
"Over the last 10 or 15 years, the trend has gone from passive to active fire detection--sprinklers and smoke detectors as opposed to fire-rated walls," James Langhorne, a 30-year, fire service veteran and fire protection engineer told the magazine. "I believe that fire sprinklers in the residential environment will be adopted around the country."
The homebuilding industry has been slow to act in embracing fire sprinklers. While the National Association of Home Builders declined to comment for the Builder article, a few builders went on the record to express their concerns over cost. "If you're talking to a guy who is struggling to support his family and you hit him with thousands of dollars of bills because the code requires it, he's going to look at you and say, 'I won't build. I'll go rent,'" Mike Hudek of Del Mar Builders told Builder Magazine.
Data from both California and Maryland, where sprinklers are required in all new homes, does not indicate that these states are suffering massive losses in either housing stock or home purchases. In California, a housing boom is currently taking place. In Maryland, the Office of the State Fire Marshal recently surveyed the state's licensed sprinkler contractors on their cost to install sprinklers in a 2,800-square-foot home. The average was a paltry $1.44 per sprinklered square foot, pennies above the national average determined by NFPA.
Flooding was another concern addressed in the article, but Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, noted that deluges aren't common. "Only the fire sprinkler closest to the fire typically activates," she told the magazine. "Most fires are controlled by one sprinkler."
If more builders can start embracing today's proven home safety features while turning a profit, "they might be able to save some lives in the process," stated the article.
Help share these resources with the homebuilding industry and local developers on the benefits of sprinklering new homes.