We Love Fire Sprinklers (And You Should Too!)
by Michael Wilson
How Fire Sprinklers Help Existing Burn Survivors
The role fire sprinklers have in saving lives and property cannot be overstated. However, their role in reducing the rate of injuries and the cost of medical care is often overlooked. Pulling from existing studies, as well as their own knowledge in the field, the members of the PenJerDel Chapter of the National Fire Sprinkler Association and the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB) are proud to clear up some commonly held misconceptions surrounding fire sprinklers, as well as inform readers on how these systems help existing burn survivors.
The emotional cost of a burn injury is incalculable, but few take into consideration the financial burden that comes after. The rising cost of medical expenses has the potential to make an injury even more catastrophic, and the uncertain future of universal healthcare presents a risk as well. Luckily, residential fire sprinklers not only minimize burns, lowering the cost of medical care, but can also prevent them entirely. There have been numerous studies that take into consideration the economic and life-saving role of fire sprinkler systems, one being a 2012 Sydney Medical School study titled “The True Cost of a Burn”. Researchers at the university examined 20 burn survivors and reported the average cost of a burn injury for an adult patient: $73,532. The study hinted that such costs should be compared to the minimal cost of prevention and education programs.
A similar study from The Fire Protection Research Foundation published in 2012 reported how residential fire sprinklers have affected injury rates, medical costs of injuries, and total costs of injuries. The study’s findings are reported below:
- Sprinkler presence is associated with a 29% reduction in injuries per 100 reported home fires
- Sprinkler presence is associated with a 53% reduction in medical cost of injuries per 100 reported home fires
- Sprinkler presence is associated with a 41% reduction in total cost of injuries per 100 reported home fires.
The Fire Protection Research Foundation reported in this study that fire sprinklers have saved, on average, 6 lives per year. The total effect fire sprinklers have on the reduction of costs in medical care and total costs of injuries was a combined $9 million.
Residential Fire Sprinklers Lower the Cost of Medical Care for Existing Burn Survivors
Residential fire sprinkler systems not only prevent future burn injuries from occurring, but they also help existing burn survivors as well. Lower injury rates see a reduction in medical costs, as evidenced in The Fire Protection Research Foundation’s study. Furthermore, with a reduction in overall burn injuries, burn centers in the United States will no longer have to strain their limited funding. Fewer injuries will also allow burn center staff to dedicate more time to each patient, resulting in a higher quality of care. Caregivers who go above and beyond to treat burn injuries on a daily basis will also be able to focus more on their existing patients.
What Stops Homeowners from Installing Fire Sprinklers?
Fire sprinklers save lives and property, but what is stopping homeowners from installing them in their homes? The PenJerDel Chapter of the NFSA and the NJFSAB work to refute some misconceptions around fire sprinklers. Below are just a few of the msiconceptions they receive daily:
“Smoking in my house or too much smoke from my stove will set off my sprinklers.”
This is not true. Fire sprinklers react to heat, not smoke. Residential heads are set to go off at 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
“When the system is tripped, all the sprinklers in the house will go off.”
Hollywood has a hand in perpetuating this myth. Residential sprinkler heads do not all go off at once. Only the sprinkler closest to the heat will go off.
“Fire sprinklers are unsightly and expensive.”
Advances in the fire sprinkler industry have not only made sprinklers more effective, but they have made them more affordable and less-intrusive. On average a fire sprinkler system costs $1.35 per square foot in new construction. To draw a parallel, this is around the same cost for new countertops. Many fire sprinklers now come equipped with cover plates, meaning that the sprinkler head is unexposed. In the event of a fire, the plate will pop off and the head will fall, containing or extinguishing the fire.
Michael Wilson is a passionate advocate for fire sprinklers. A native to New Jersey, Michael works to promote fire sprinklers in his home state and throughout the country. He works with the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board as well as the Penjerdel Chapter of the National Fire Sprinkler Association to accomplish this goal. For more information, visit saveandprotect.org, or call 302-419-3637.