Home fire sprinklers save lives and reduce damage

Fire sprinklers are such a common sight in office buildings, apartments and public spaces that we rarely consider their importance or impact. So why don’t we question their absence in the place that matters most – our homes?

Investing in a home fire sprinkler system is a proven way to protect lives, reduce injuries and minimize the severity of property damage.

Modern home contents burn hotter, faster and more toxic than ever before. This can create fatal conditions in as quickly as two minutes from the first signal of a smoke alarm. However, it often takes firefighters up to 10 minutes to arrive on scene – by which time, fires can cause irreversible loss.

Quick facts

  • Home fire sprinklers are individually heat-activated. When the heat from a fire raises the sprinkler to its operating temperature, only that sprinkler activates.
  • There’s an 80% reduction in fire-related deaths when sprinklers are present.
  • In homes with fire sprinklers, fires are contained to the room they began in 97% of the time.
  • Damage is 70% less when sprinklers are in use, compared to an equivalent unit without sprinklers.
  • Fire sprinklers help protect the environment by reducing water usage. A fire sprinkler typically discharges 55 litres/minute, whereas a firefighter’s hose discharges more than 550 litres/minute.
  • In areas with adequate supply and knowledgeable trades people, installing a fire sprinkler system typically costs 1 to 2% of the total value of the home.

Source: The National Fire Protection Association

Myths

Here are some common misconceptions about residential fire sprinklers:

Fire sprinklers go off simultaneously – FALSE: Each sprinkler reacts individually. Only the sprinkler nearest the fire will activate. If one sprinkler can’t control the fire, the next closest to it will open, and so on.

Fire sprinklers go off accidentally – FALSE: The odds of a sprinkler going off by accident due to a defect are one in 16 million.

Fire sprinklers are an eye sore – FALSE: Residential fire sprinklers are much smaller than the ones you see in stores and offices. Residential models come in colours that match popular ceiling and wall colours, and some manufacturers will custom paint them for you.

I can install a fire sprinkler myself – FALSE: Only qualified and experienced contractors should install fire sprinklers.

Fire sprinklers cause excessive water damage – FALSE: The combination of a sprinkler’s quick response time, individual activation, minimized waterflow and low pressure significantly reduces water and property damage.

Advocacy

The Co-operators is an advocate of fire safety and a leading proponent of the mandatory installation of fire sprinklers in residential home construction. We work closely with like-minded organizations and experts to research, build awareness and mandate change. These groups include:

To see residential fire sprinklers in action, watch a watch a burn demonstration that showcases the effects of fires in a home with and without sprinklers. Our Fire Sprinklers Save Lives video debunks myths about fire sprinklers and shows why they’re so important. We also support the Built for Life Program that provides funding for fire departments’ sprinkler education.

We've got you covered

If you’re already living in a home with fire sprinklers, let your Financial Advisor know. You may be eligible for a discount. If you’re building a new home or making major renovations, consider installing fire sprinklers.