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Join the Conversation on Residential Fire Sprinklers

Does your family have an emergency plan?  For most, the answer to this question is yes.  They know what to do if there is a fire; where to meet, and who to call.  What have you done to help prevent or minimize a fire loss within your home?  While most have a reactive plan, many are not prepared beforehand.  No one wants to think about what happens if there’s a fire in their own home. It’s one of many “what if” questions homeowners will face.

For years, there’s been a debate effecting home-owners and renter’s personal lives, but the controversy isn’t publicized in many communities. Should single family homes be required to have home fire sprinkler systems installed during the home’s building process?

The ongoing debate can be narrowed down to two main arguments. Those who are for sprinklers in new homes believe the effort will save lives, while those against it think the installation and upkeep is too costly.

Advocates for sprinklers claim fire sprinklers in homes will reduce the likelihood of death for both civilians and firefighters. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in homes with fire sprinklers, civilian death is 81 percent lower and firefighter death is 80 percent lower than homes without fire sprinklers.

Home fire sprinklers were found to be more beneficial than not in a 15-year study conducted in Maryland. From 1992 to 2007, a study was conducted in Prince George County to review automatic sprinkler systems in one- and two- family homes. During the duration of the study, there were 13,494 fires, with an average of 900 fires a year in single-family or townhouses in Prince George County.

The study found that in the homes with no fire sprinkler systems, 101 deaths and 329 civilian injuries were reported throughout the 15-year study. In the homes with sprinkler systems, no deaths occurred and only six civilian injuries were reported.

However, opponents of fire sprinkler advocates strongly believe adding home fire sprinkler systems to new houses would cost more than they’re worth.

The Illinois Association of Realtors presume between the smoke detector requirements and new designs in new homes already make houses safer, therefore adding a sprinkler system would be more of a hassle.

In most states, sprinklers are not required in new one-and two-family homes. Those in favor of residential sprinklers around the country, like the NFPA, are pushing for states to adopt legislations that require builders and construction companies include fire sprinklers in new homes.

Currently, only two states and the nation’s capital require builders to include fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family houses. Out of the remaining 47 states, 31 states do not allow adoptions of fire sprinkler requirements for these types of homes and 17 states allow both local and statewide adoptions of sprinkler codes, but builders are not required to in new residential home structures.

Current Midwest State’s Requirement for Home Fire Sprinklers

Illinois  Local jurisdictions can adopt a building code requiring fire sprinklers in new homes. Approximately 100 communities have adopted an ordinance for fire sprinklers.




The Wisconsin Legislature has placed restrictions on municipalities regarding automatic fire sprinklers. The Uniform Dwelling Code, which is used for all one- and two-family dwellings, does not allow municipalities from enacting local ordinances requiring home fire sprinklers. Wisconsin requires sprinklers in all residential buildings containing three or more units.
Michigan  Uses the 2015 International Residential Code, but has removed requirement to sprinkler new homes. Local jurisdictions may NOT adopt a sprinkler requirement.
Indiana  Uses the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC). Rulemaking body removed the fire sprinkler provisions from the adoption of the 2009 IRC.
Ohio  Uses the 2009 International Residential Code, but there is no statewide adoption of home fire sprinklers.

For every state’s requirement, visit the NFPA.



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