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« Illinois initiative to require home fire sprinklers under way | Main | Home fire sprinkler legislation update – 2012 session »

07/13/2012

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This is an interesting debate. Let's look back at how all the other safety components of buildings got included in the code and how many of those were "market driven"? My guess is none, but I could be wrong.

Now look at how many neighborhoods have requirements for lawn sprinklers, brick exteriors, specific landscaping, custom roofing materials.... I haven't seen many builders saying those things should be market driven.

My guess is the margins on those items make them more lucrative for the builder where sprinkler systems can't get the same margins (profit) for the builder.

If they really want a market driving building code, builders should be singing the same song for energy conservation, wall bracing, structural strength, plumbing fixtures, electrical service . . . .

Market research from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition has indicated that 25 percent of people are interested in getting residential sprinklers. If sprinklers were marketed correctly to home buyers, home builders should see some results.

To my knowledge, home builders using the mandated option have had no success at all. Over the years, firefighters who have approached home builders and realtors in model homes report that the sales personnel had no positive information about sprinklers and quoted egregiously high estimates.

There is a way to "sell" sprinklers, but the sales staff must first be knowledgeable about the subject and be motivated to promote the product.

The plumbing industry has a sales advantage that sprinkler contractors lack. They can offer sprinklers as a plumbing "upgrade," similar to how countertop and other upgrades are offered. Motivated home builders could offer home buyers better plumbing at lower prices and increase their profits. Sadly, they remain focused on fighting residential sprinklers instead of learning how to market them.

Has the insurance industry taking an official stand on this issue? My understanding is that insurance companies are concerned about leaks and freeze damage from the installations, therefore, they are not offering discounts to owners who install sprinklers. Supposedly, any potential savings in fire damage are offset by an increase in water damage from leaks or freeze ups. If annual premium discounts were available to homeowners, this would appear to be a much easier "sale"

Mr. Lucas,
The insurance industry has taken an official position on this. They will provide discounts (which vary between companies) to the fire portion of a home insurance policy if there are fire sprinklers present. On the contrary, when cities do not adopt the minimum residential code requiring fire sprinklers in all new homes, everyone's insurance rates my increase.

Fire damage is more extensive and the water damage is also greater with no fire sprinklers. Sprinklers decrease fire property damage by about 70% when activated during a fire. Water used during a fire is reduced by 90%, due to sprinkler flows of 26-28 gallons per minute (gpm) vs. firefighter hoses delivering an average of 250 gpm.

I encourage you to visit the resources section of this site to read numerous studies pointing to the same conclusion; fire sprinkler requirements offer many benefits for people and communities. Most importantly, they save lives.

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