Where do I tell people to start? Will they find fire sprinklers in the Yellow Pages?
If a homebuilder is not familiar with contractors that install residential fire sprinklers, there are several options.
Look in the local Yellow Pages under "Sprinklers, Fire."
Ask a local or state fire marshal if contractors in your state are required to be licensed. If they are, contact the state licensing board for a current list of licensed contractors.
Contact fire sprinkler contractor associations for names of residential sprinkler contractors in your area.
An increasing number of contractors have web pages describing their capabilities.
Any professional fire sprinkler contractor can install these systems, but for best results look for a contractor that specializes in residential fire sprinkler systems or one that has a residential sprinkler installation unit within the company.
What should I do if someone's homebuilder or architect has questions or says they don't need fire sprinklers?
Most fire chiefs around the country will recommend fire sprinklers, as they have witnessed first hand their benefit to life and property safety. Some, but not all architects and builders are educated, at least partially, about residential fire sprinklers. If a builder or architect is not familiar with these systems, have them contact the organizations below for information.
And, if a builder or architect tries to discourage people from finding out more about their options, they can obtain information by contacting any of these resources:
Any of the organizations listed in the Member Section
Operation Life Safety
(703-372-9815, Ext. 319)
U.S. Fire Administration
How much should people expect to pay for a fire sprinkler system?
If installed during new home construction, home fire sprinklers often cost no more than 1 to 1-1/2 percent of the total building cost, which is about what they would pay for an upgrade in carpeting. The investment in a family's fire protection may be slightly lower or higher, depending on the location and complexity of the home.
How long should installation take? Can other construction work continue while the sprinklers are going in?
Fire sprinkler installations are like electricity, plumbing or any other operational system in a home. The total time involved will depend on the size and complexity of the home.
Certain portions of the system (i.e. water piping) are more easily and cost-effectively installed in the earliest stages of construction, while the actual finish (i.e. installing the fire sprinkler devices, testing the system, etc.) will take place after the house is framed. Fire sprinkler systems are often completed prior to the other systems in a home, but other mechanical trades may work along side the sprinkler contractor if necessary.
How are fire sprinkler systems maintained?
A residential fire sprinkler system is basically maintenance free. The only testing required on a regular basis is opening the drain/test valve to check the alarm operation. The rest of the system is designed to operate properly for 20 years or more without any maintenance.
Some basic precautions to safeguard the fire sprinkler system are:
Avoid painting or otherwise covering the fire sprinkler devices, as that will affect their sensitivity to heat.
Do not hang decorations, plants or other objects from the sprinkler or piping.
What if a home will not be connected to a public water supply?
Homes can be protected by automatic fire sprinklers in even the most remote areas. Several manufacturers offer self-contained water tanks to supply residential fire sprinkler systems. These tanks are designed to fit in a garage or another storage area of the home, and they hold enough water to comply with the National Fire Protection Association Standard 13D, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.
Will homeowners insurance premiums go up?
No. Generally insurance rates will go down because fire sprinklers will keep damage low. Shop around; the savings vary by insurance company.
Can I retrofit fire sprinklers into my existing home?