According to the American Fire Sprinkler Association, a home fire occurs every 79 seconds. A 2009 National Fire Protection Association study reports that 3,000 deaths a year can be attributed to fires in homes [source: Figueroa]. Given these startling statistics and what we've already learned about the life- and property-saving characteristics of fire sprinkler system installation, it's hard to believe that less than 2 percent of homes in the United States have fire sprinkler systems [source: Hall]. So why are homeowners hesitant to install a system that could save their lives and property?
While aesthetics shouldn't outweigh life safety, one reason many single-family homeowners don't want to install sprinkler systems is that they believe sprinkler heads are an eye sore. Fortunately, new designs for residential systems are actually quite undetectable, and many can be installed flush to the ceiling. Flush sprinkler heads are hidden behind a metal panel that hides the sprinkler head, but still allows it to spray normally.
And residential sprinklers are smaller than commercial ones and require less water. They're typically dry pipe systems, providing added protection against potential water damage that could occur during home improvements or other home accidents. Additionally, since the development of residential systems is a newer concept, their designs include many new innovations (like improved sensitivity), making them faster than commercial sprinklers.
Perhaps the most common myth about home sprinkler systems is that they're expensive. Not only is the installation of a home fire sprinkler system affordable, it can drastically decrease your home owner's insurance premium. Considering installation costs, reduced insurance rates and potential property destruction costs, a 2007 National Institute of Standards and Technology found the addition of a home sprinkler system could produce up to $4,800 in savings. Home systems will only continue to become more cost-effective as they become more common. Don't be surprised if you're required to install sprinkler systems in your home at some point in the future.