Angie’s List: Home Fire Sprinklers


Americans have noted Fire Prevention Week in October for nearly a century. In today’s Angie’s List report, some startling new information you need to know about contemporary living that’s had a dramatic and dangerous effect on how quickly modern homes burn.

Mark Riffey, Ryan Fireprotection Inc., “The fire department gets notified by the dispatcher and they get to the scene. All too often, it takes three minutes to get the fire department notified. They arrive in three minutes, and unfortunately, they’re one minute too late.”

Less than five minutes  that’s all the time you have to get out of your home safely once a fire starts … down significantly from the seventeen minutes you used to have before engineered lumber, synthetic furnishings and open floor plans started turning small fires into a quick flashover.

Mark Riffey, “When we talk about flashover, that’s when everything in the room is totally consumed by the fire.”

This demonstration shows just how quickly a small trash fire can spread. It’s also the reason many fire safety experts and insurance companies now recommend home sprinkler systems, which can cut your chance of dying in a fire by about eighty percent.

Dale Saucier, White River Fire Department Safety Chief, “Residential sprinklers are going to end up catching that fire in the insipient phase before it moves on to fully developed, and then you get flashovers.”

Angie Hicks, Angie’s List Founder, “Sprinkler systems are proven to save lives and we’re seeing more and more of them being installed in homes and they’re becoming more affordable. In fact, a handful of states even require sprinkler systems under certain conditions in homes.”~

More than thirty-two hundred lives were lost and over fourteen billion dollars in property damage occurred in fires across the country last year. This controlled burn of a modernly furnished eight-by-eight-foot room flashed over in just about two minutes. A similar room with a working sprinkler system never reached flashover, prevented more extensive damage, and more importantly, the formation of toxic smoke that’s the primary cause of death for victims of indoor fires.

Mark Riffey, “The sprinklers activate in such a fast time frame that they don’t allow the fire the ability to come up with these lethal concentrations.”

Angie says a typical single-family home can have adequate sprinkler coverage for five to ten-thousand dollars. She recommends getting at least three estimates from experienced fire security companies along with details of their system. Obviously, working fire extinguishers and alarms are key, too. If fire breaks out, get yourself and your family out to safety before calling 911.

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