The Promotion and Research of Residential Sprinkler. Systems. A Safer Future with Residential Sprinklers

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1 The Promotion and Research of Residential Sprinkler Systems A Safer Future with Residential Sprinklers Matthew P. Korst M University of Cincinnati College of Fire Science Political and Legal Foundations Professor: Lawrence T. Bennett

2 Certification Statement I hereby certify that this paper constitutes my own product, that where the language of others is set forth, quotation marks so indicate, and that appropriate credit is given where I have used the language, ideas, expressions, or writings of another. Matthew P. Korst 2

3 Abstract This research takes a factual perspective of the development and use of residential sprinkler systems to promote life and the reduction of property damage. The ultimate goal of the research is to spread awareness of the powerful affects and advantages of residential sprinkler systems. Adopting a law requiring residential sprinklers will protect homeowners and brave firefighters across the nation. The overall intent of this study is to promote the quality of life in the City of Mason and across the country. Numerous data and research was done to conclude a significant perspective on sprinkler ordinances. The data was gathered through several agencies and corporations for analysis. Along with this paper comes the promotion of fire prevention. The world around us is constantly changing and to provide for a safer environment for fire personnel and civilians this paper was written. A quote from President George W. Bush Recognizing and confronting our history is important. Transcending our history is essential. We are not limited by what we have done, or what we have left undone. We are limited only by what we are willing to do, The future is ahead of us and it belongs to those who prepare for it today. The preparation of a safer future is our job. 3

4 Index Page # Introduction... 5 The City of Mason... 6 Mason Fire Department... 8 Ohio Fire Code... 9 Scottsdale, Arizona... 9 California Prince George s County, Maryland NFPA/NAHB Cost Analysis USFA Position on Residential Sprinklers Discussion Conclusion References Appendix A Appendix B Appendix C

5 Introduction This research takes a look at residential sprinkler ordinances in one-, two- and three-family dwellings across the nation in hope to raise awareness on fire safety and the reduction of property damage. In a local perspective the City of Mason in southwest Ohio follows Ohio fire mandated codes that do not require sprinkler systems in homes with three families or less. On a national scale the majority of communities do not want to increase sprinkler ordinances in family dwellings for several reasons. Mainly due to economics, politics and the fear of water damage. The average citizen in the United States misunderstands how sprinkler systems function and what it takes to discharge them, therefore making it difficult to create legislative law on family dwelling sprinklers. The focus of this study is to address the advantages sprinkler ordinances have in family homes. In North America, smoke detectors are required in all buildings for safety precautions, but this is not enough to protect life and prevent injury. In 2009, fire departments responded to 377,000 home fires in the United States, which claimed the lives of 2,565 people (not including firefighters) and injured another 13,050, not including firefighters. 1 Also in 2009, 85% of all U.S. fire deaths occurred in homes. 2 Residential fire deaths are among the most deadly in the United States, because of the lack of fire protection and public education. The purpose of this paper is to lay out the factual information to allow the reader to understand and completely be aware of a safer future with home sprinkler ordinances.throughout the course of the paper communities and legal issues will be studied to show a vast perspective. The fire services job is to increase fire prevention and

6 educate their citizen s on fire safety issues. In which the overall goal of this paper is to achieve that. A review of fire codes, communities, sprinkler systems, statistics and a brief history was done to develop the beef of this paper. Along with that a demographic and modern view of the City of Mason was done. In over the last three decades Mason has been a birthplace of thousands of one- and two- dwelling homes without sprinkler ordinances. Research was done by compiling numerous amounts of information by internationally known cooperation s including the NFPA, USFA, NIST, and NAHB. Expert analyze was found and implemented into the paper to develop an intelligent perspective on sprinkler ordinances. Countless studies and statistics show for an immediate need of sprinklers in family dwellings. In conclusion there are several myths about the use and effectiveness of sprinkler systems. Most of which were created by Hollywood production and construction companies across the nation for financial gain. This paper was made to change that perspective and be a strong advocate for residential sprinkler systems. The City of Mason Mason is the largest growing city in Warren County, which is located in the southwest corner of Ohio. In 1970, just a year before the town was to become a city, there were fewer than 5,700 residents. 3 The population was later estimated to have 29,491 people in a 2006 census. (Appendix A) In just over three decades the population tripled. 3 6

7 As a resident since 1995 the small once farm town went from one lane roads and halffinished neighborhoods to fully occupied neighborhoods and two lane paved roads everywhere. With Mason s current 24 commerce parks and 500 businesses in the City s 18 square miles the city prospers financially and economically. 4 Mason s fifteen largest employers provide work for more than 9,000 persons and generate more than $5.3 million annually in income tax revenue. 5 With all this business and financial power Mason still fails to do one thing which is to require and protect its thousands of citizens and households with residential sprinkler systems. Interviewing Gregory Nicholls the Chief Building Official with Mason since 1994, said that at times the city was constructing 400 to 450 family households a year. 6 Currently in Mason the average new single family household is 3,400 square feet and the median value was estimated to be about $350,000 in There are 10,493 households in Mason with an average of 2.8 persons per home and the median age of a home is nine years. 8 Gregory also told me in his history with Mason he has heard of only one household with a residential sprinkler ordinance and it was a homeowner who owned a sprinkler system company. The city still continues to provide building permits for several homes including multi-million dollar ones in which none of them have sprinkler ordinances Gregory N. Nicholls, AIA Chief Building Official

8 Mason Fire Department The Mason fire department originated from a small town volunteer department to over 60 full-time and part-time employees. The city has two fire stations 51 and 52 which both operate 365 days a year twenty four hours a day. Mason s fire department handles over 3,000 fire and medical emergency responses each year. 9 With such a high population and demand for public service Mason has a mutual aid agreement with neighboring Deerfield Township. Deerfield Township is one of southwest Ohio s fastest-growing communities with a population of over 36,000 residents. 10 With such enormous populations to cover, Deerfield and Mason support one another in emergency services calls. Another main focus is to provide the growing population with public education. The fire service provides educational programs for schools, civic groups and businesses. The department is pleased to have a Kids Fire Safety House, a fire safety trailer that can be taken to schools and other locations to help teach children about fire escape and safety. 11 The city does provide adequate response times and educational programs, but fails to provide fire safety ordinances amongst its thousands of households

9 Ohio Fire Code The City of Mason follows the Ohio fire code on automatic sprinklers systems, which was mandated by the International Code Council with a few exceptions. As of January 1, 2011 automatic sprinkler systems shall be installed in one- and two- family dwellings. In which additions or altercations to existing buildings that don t have them are not required. 12 This is required in the International Residential Code, but however has not been completely implemented into the Ohio fire code. However, the Ohio fire code does make three requirements in which NFPA 13, 13R and 13D must be followed when installing sprinkler systems. (Appendix A) These requirements show the duration, advantages, scope and sprinkler design for all sprinkler ordinances including residential. Scottsdale, Arizona The city of Scottsdale, Arizona is one of the leading communities with built-in residential automatic sprinkler systems. Since January 1, 1986 sprinkler ordinances have been required in every multi-family and single family dwelling. 13 The systems have been credited with saving a number of lives locally within their 240,000 person community. In a 15 year study from 1986 to 2001 the city had 199 working fires in sprinkled buildings. The total value of complexes for sprinkled and non-sprinkled in the community was $767,334,000 and the total cost for fire related property damage in the 199 sprinkled incidents was $703,300. In which a total of 13 lives were saved. The average loss per sprinkled building was $3,534 and $45,019 for non-sprinkled buildings. (Appendix B)

10 California As of January 1, 2011 all new single family residences and duplexes built are required to have sprinkler systems. Prior to the recent California building code amendment, 146 cities and counties in California had building codes requiring sprinklers in particular homes, however this is the first time a statewide building code for fire sprinklers has been enacted. 14 The most populated state in the nation took a step forward in public safety mandating residential sprinkler systems. The predicted average cost of residential sprinklers is $4000 per unit.this may seem expensive, but will protect civilian and firefighter lives across the state. Prince George s County, Maryland In 1987, Prince George s County signed a law mandating fire sprinklers for all residential structures. The law required all newly constructed single-family dwellings to be protected by NFPA 13D sprinkler systems. From the years 1992 to 2007 Prince George s County recorded a total of 13,494 single family/townhouse fires and 245 of those were protected by fire sprinkler systems. In those 245 incidents, no deaths were recorded and only six injuries were reported. 15 In this study 101 people died and 328 were injured in single family/townhouse fires with no sprinklers.the county recorded that 89% of fire deaths were in residential dwellings. The fifteen year report also recorded a $134,711,199 total fire loss for single-family houses and townhouses. For the 245 activated sprinkler events there was a total of $1,352,820 fire loss. Fires with no sprinklers/fatalities averaged $9,983 property loss while incidents with no sprinklers and

11 had fatalities averaged $49,503. Then in homes protected with fire sprinklers averaged $4,883 property damage. 16 Another benefit that homeowners have with fire sprinkler systems in the county is lower insurance cost. Prince George s County is a prime example of how sprinklers systems preserve life and drastically reduce property damage. NFPA/NAHB Cost Analysis The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) did a study relating the cost of residential sprinkler systems on ten communities in which nine were in the United States and one in Canada. The ten communities offer diversity in terms of sprinkler ordinance status, geographic location, housing style, and sprinkler system variables such as the type of piping material and the water supply source (municipal or on-site). (pg 7) 17 The data was collected from builders and sprinkler installers regarding three separate building plans per community. Along with that expense and system information was gathered. The report ranged 30 houses in which the minimum cost for sprinkler ordinances per square foot was $0.38 and the highest being $ This range averaged out to be $1.61 per square foot. This report also conducted a survey on insurance premium discounts for homeowners with sprinkler systems installed. For all of the communities the average discount percentile was collected from five insures who have a strong market share in their state. The percentile savings ranged from 0 to 10% among all that were surveyed, with an average premium discount of 7 %.(pg9) 19 Appendix B shows the locations of the ten communities selected for research and graphical data relating to the study

12 The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conducted a nationwide survey on the top insurers throughout the nation on residential sprinkler premium discounts. The data was compiled on insurers who have at least 40% of the market in every state besides Hawaii. To qualify for the discounts the sprinkler systems must follow the protocol of NFPA standards and for a percentile discount they must be class A or B systems. Class A has automatic sprinklers installed in all areas including bathrooms, attics, closets, and attached structures. Class B has installation partially or totally in bathrooms, attics, closets, and attached structure. 20 Depending on the quality of the sprinkler system your insurance discount will vary. Appendix C shows the percentage discount per class and per insurer in each state. USFA Position on Residential Sprinklers The United States Fire Administration through FEMA has written and presented statistical data reasoning for the need of residential fire sprinklers. Throughout the last four decades, the way we live and the materials we surround ourselves by have increased a hazard for fire growth. Today the average household has a TV in every room and more flammable furnishing and carpet occupying the living space. The available time to escape a flaming fire in a home has decreased significantly (i.e., from 17± 6 minutes in 1975 to 3± ½ minute in 2003) 21 The decreased fire escape time has been blamed for increased flammability of home furnishings in which we surround ourselves. In the year 2006, 19% of all reported fires occurred in one- and two-family structures; however,

13 these fires caused 66% (2,155) of the fire deaths in the US. 22 Also 25% of all firefighter line of duty deaths were connected to residential fires. The average annual firefighter death total is at 100, meaning that 25 firefighters died in residential fires in one year. In this statement the USFA also presented results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The results are shown below: 23 When fire sprinklers alone are installed in a residence, the chances of dying in a fire are reduced by 69%, when compared to a residence without sprinklers. When smoke alarms alone are installed in a residence, a reduction in the death rate of 63% can be expected, when compared to a residence without smoke alarms. When both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are present in a home, the risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82%, when compared to a residence without either. The final position statement of the USFA: It is the position of the U.S. Fire Administration that all citizens should be protected against death, injury, and property loss resulting from fire in their residence. All homes should be equipped with both smoke alarms and automatic fire sprinklers, and all families should have and practice an emergency escape plan. The USFA fully supports all efforts to reduce the tragic toll of fire losses in this nation, including the proposed changes to the International Residential Code that would require automatic sprinklers in all new residential construction 24 The installation of residential sprinklers will not only increase the chances of saving your life, but the ability to minimize property damage saving your life s work

14 Discussion There is countless data and studies that show a safer future with residential sprinkler systems in one-, two- and three-family dwellings is a need. The only thing that stands between this need is legislative law and a strong public demand. The two main reasons public demand is low is because of the misunderstanding of how sprinkler systems operate and how much they cost. Many people believe that when one sprinkler system goes off they all will. This is false; sprinkler heads react to temperatures in each room, meaning that a fire in the kitchen will only activate that sprinkler head. It takes about 165 degrees Fahrenheit to set off a sprinkler head. Several people also believe that sprinkler heads will accidentally go off or cause significant water damage. The odds of you getting killed by an asteroid are 30 times greater than your sprinkler system accidentally going off. Considering that a fire fighter s hose sprays about 175 gallons a minute while a residential sprinkler only sprays about 15 gallons of water per minute, your sprinkler system would have to run 12 times longer than a fire fighter s hose before it caused the same amount of damage. 25 The idea of a sprinkler head in the middle of your home does not seem so attractive, thus causing many people to be against an ugly metal sprinkler hanging from their ceiling. This conception is extremely false, because sprinkler heads that are designed for home features are way different than the ones seen in a typical office building. Sprinklers in homes are designed to be nearly invisible or can retract up into the ceiling behind plates, in which they can be designed to match your home. Home sprinkler

15 systems are also designed to function way differently than commercial models. Home sprinklers spray more outwardly than commercial models and are capable of covering between 150 to 400 square feet, thus requiring fewer sprinkler heads. 26 The image and conception of a sprinkler system in residential homes is extremely misunderstood by the public. The public view believes that installing sprinkler systems would be too expensive to the home builder or raise the cost drastically. This is false; a sprinkler system can actually raise the value of your home and protect valuable merchandise. A current estimate of a home sprinkler system could raise the building price from 1% -1 ½%. 27 Sprinkler systems can also get you a cut off on your homeowners insurance. Conclusion The City of Mason and the rest of the nation must prepare for the future and adopt a law requiring residential sprinklers. Mason is a prime example of a vastly growing city that needs to mandate sprinkler ordinances in new built households. With over 10,493 households already and newly built ones produced every year the potential for fire grows. The average family household is 3,400 square feet costing an estimated $350,000 and consists of 2.8 persons per home. This means if we calculated the cost of residential sprinklers by the average square foot at $1.62, the cost would be $5,508, which would add 1.5% to the total household mortgage. Mason generates extremely high revenue from high end businesses that supplies a lot of high paying jobs to citizens. This means that adding a 1.5% to the mortgage would nearly be nothing to homeowners that have

16 mortgages over 15 to 30 years. The installation of sprinkler systems is very capable for new built homes and must be mandated. There have been several studies from NFPA, NIST, USFA, and NAHB that show residential sprinkler ordinances are affordable and save lives. Having sprinkler systems can get you on average a 5% to 10% discount on homeowners insurance. The risk of dying with sprinklers in your home is reduced to 82% which can bring down the yearly death toll of firefighters and civilians drastically. With over 85% of all fire deaths occurring in homes in 2009 the death toll could have been reduced from 2,565 to 385 saving 2,184 lives. Also on average 25% of firefighters die in a household fire, which brings a yearly death toll for residential fires for firemen to 25. The future household with residential sprinklers is not going to just save thousands of lives, but can keep your hard earned belongings protected. The city of Mason has no sprinkler systems installed in any of their homes leaving a disaster for the future. As homes grow older and technology advances, the risk of fire will increase. The city must create a law to install sprinkler systems to provide protection for its civilians, but also take that step to lower the chance of potential fire hazards to take some weight off of the two fire stations in Mason. The state of California and the communities of Scottsdale and Prince George s County have realized the advantages of residential sprinkler systems. The largest populated state California just recently mandated that all newly built residential homes must have sprinkler systems. Prince George s County 15 year study showed that with the use of sprinklers the death toll can be reduced to zero. The county recorded zero deaths and 6 civilian injuries in 245 fires that were protected by sprinkler ordinances. In Scottsdale, Arizona they reported saving 13 lives in 199 incidents with sprinklers. The 16

17 city of Masons main logo is more than you imagine, well I imagine a safer environment for the thousands of hardworking civilians. The next step in doing this is passing a local law or pushing for a statewide law to mandate sprinklers. This will not only allow the city to prosper financially, but in public safety. The public s perspective of residential sprinklers is truly misguided and must be changed to build support behind a law mandating residential sprinklers. Installing sprinklers can reduce water damage and give homeowners more time to escape from today s fast growing fires. The idea that a sprinkler head in your home is ugly is false, because they build them to blend in with your household and can retract up into the ceiling. Public support is the future and I hope this combined research will raise awareness for the millions that do not know the potential of sprinkler ordinances. This is also dedicated to the countless people that have died in residential fires and to the family members that have suffered through the painful loss. Planning for the future is saving lives and that s what the City of Mason must do. 17

18 References (2011). Retrieved June 1, 2011, from City of Mason Ohio More than you Imagine: Development Information. (2010). Retrieved May 30, 2011, from Deerfeild Township Committed to Service Excellence: Fire Deaths and Injuries: Fact Sheet. (2010, October 1). Retrieved June 1, 2011, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fire Sprinkler Systems. (2011). Retrieved May 28, 2011, from The Official Web Site of the City of Scottsdale, Arizona: International Code Council. (2007). Retrieved June 1, 2011, from r001.ht Mason, OH Real Estate Market. (2011). Retrieved May 30, 2011, from AOL Real Estate: Misconceptions about Home Fire Sprinkler Systems. (2006). Retrieved June 1, 2011, from Doityourself: 18

19 Newport Partners Davidsonville, MD. (2008, September). Home Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment. Retrieved June 1, 2011, from National Fire Protection Association: Nicholls, G. N. (2011, May 22). Cheif Building Official. (M. P. Korst, Interviewer) Tran, T. (2011, March 15). Fire sprinkler systems mandatory for new home construction in California. Retrieved June 1, 2011, from First Tuesday Journal Online: USFA Position on Residential Fire Sprinklers. (2008, May 28). Retrieved June 1, 2011, from United States Fire Administration: Weatherby, S. (2009, August). BENEFITS of RESIDENTIAL FIRE SPRINKLERS: Prince George s County 15-Year History. Retrieved May 28, 2011, from Prince George's County: Xu, L. (2007, September 14). Fire Sprinklers and Homeowner Insurance. Retrieved June 1, 2011, from National Association of Home Builders : 19

20 Appendix A Census Population , , , ,491 Chart recreated from City of Mason s website NFPA 13 NFPA 13R NFPA 13D Extent of Protection Equip throughout (Section ) Occupied spaces (Section ) Occupied spaces (Section ) Scope All Occupancies Low-rise residential One- and twofamily dwellings Sprinkler design Density/area concept 4-head design 2- head design Sprinklers All types Residential only Residential only Duration Advantages 30 minutes (minimum) Property and life protection 30 minutes 10 minutes Life safety/tenability Life safety/tenability From: Recreated for graphically data 2006 International Building Code Commentary Figure

21 Appendix B Evaluation of Automatic Sprinklers in Scottsdale January 1, 1986 thru January 1, 2001 * Total Working Fires in Sprinkled Buildings 199 * Types of Activations Commercial 102 Multifamily 48 Single Family 49 * Total Value of Complexes $767,334,000 * Total Structural Fire Loss for 199 Incidents $703,300 * Total Lives Saved 13 * Average Loss Per Sprinkled Incident $3,534 - Without Omega Failure at Joshua Tree Apartments $2,276 * Average Fire Non-Sprinkled Structural Incidents $45,019 * Fires Controlled With Two or Less Sprinkler Heads (183/16) 92% From: (pg 4) Map from NFPA report (pg 13) 21

22 Graph from NFPA study (pg 16) House Size for 30- Home Sample (Square feet) Sprinklered Area* Living Area** Mean 4,118 3,660 Median 4,124 3,441 Minimum 1,913 1,723 Maximum 6,542 6,360 Chart recreated from NFPA report (pg 15) 22

23 Sprinkler System Cost to the Home Builder Cost ($/sprinklered SF) Cost ($/living Space SF) Cost with Available Credits ($/sprinklered SF) Cost with Available Credits ($/living space SF) Mean $1.61 $1.72 $1.49 $1.60 Median $1.42 $1.49 $1.23 $1.38 Minimum $0.38 $0.74 $0.38 $0.74 Maximum $3.66 $3.66 $3.66 $3.66 Chart recreated from NFPA report (pg 16) 23

24 Appendix C States Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Table 1. Discounts for Fire Sprinklers on Homeowners Insurance Policies Company Name Market Share Sprinkler Credits Data Source Class A 1 Class B 2 AL Dept. of State Farm IL 29.43% Insurance 10% 5% AL Dept. of Alfa Ins Grp 20.57% Insurance 10% 5% AL Dept. of Allstate Ins Grp 11.95% Insurance 10% 0 AK Dept. of State Farm IL 35.15% Insurance 10% 5% AK Dept. of Allstate Ins Co 29.80% Insurance 10% 0 AK Dept. of United Services Auto Assoc 9.23% Insurance 8% 8% State Farm IL 19.81% State Farm 10% 5% Zurich Ins Grp (Farmers Ins Grp) 17.40% Farmers 10% 5% Allstate Ins Grp 14.66% Allstate 3% 0 State Farm IL 24.84% State Farm 10% 5% Farm Bureau Mut Ins Co Of AR Inc 21.05% Ins. Agent 0 0 Allstate Ins Grp 8.81% Allstate 4% 0 State Farm IL 22.13% State Farm 10% 5% Zurich Ins Grp (Farmers Ins Grp) 16.56% Farmers 10% 5% Allstate Ins. Grp 14.13% Allstate 10% 0 State Farm IL 23.93% State Farm 10% 5% Zurich Ins Grp (Farmers Ins Grp) 15.60% Farmers 10% 5% American Family Ins Grp 13.60% American Family 10% 10% Allstate Ins Grp 10.04% Allstate 2% 0 Allstate Ins Grp 13.21% Allstate 10% 0 Chubb & Son INC 11.38% Chubb & Son 15% 0 Liberty Mut Grp 6.15% Ins. Agent 10% 10% Hartford Fire & Cas Grp 5.75% Ins. Agent 13% 0 Nationwide Corp 5.40% Nationwide 0 0 State Farm IL 29.63% State Farm 10% 5% Nationwide Corp 14.62% Nationwide 0 0 Allstate Ins. Grp 9.71% Allstate 0 0 State Farm IL 24.59% State Farm 10% 5% Chubb & Son INC 12.57% Chubb & Son 15% 0 Allstate Ins Grp 12.48% Allstate 10% 0 FL Dept. of State Farm Florida Ins. Co % Insurance 10% 5% FL Dept. of Allstate Floridian Ins. Co. 8.86% Insurance 10% 0 Poe Financial Grp (took Citizens' FL Dept. of policies) 7.20% Insurance 7% 4% FL Dept. of Tower Hill Ins Grp 5.11% Insurance 7% 4% Nationwide Ins. Co. of Florida 4.92% FL Dept. of 16% 9% 24

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