APPLE VALLEY, Minn., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Starting January 1, 2011, several states — including Pennsylvania — will require fire sprinklers to be installed in all new homes. In response to growing concerns about home-fire fatalities and irrefutable fire-loss data, the nation's building codes are changing to incorporate this life-saving technology.
"Fire sprinklers save lives, plain and simple," explains Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Edward A. Mann, who says this fact is borne out by decades of studies across the nation, including experiences in neighboring-state Maryland. "In the 15 years since Prince George's County enacted a residential fire sprinkler ordinance, there has not been one single fire fatality in a home with sprinklers, compared to more than 100 deaths in homes without this protection."
While the need for sprinklers is clear, there is a choice in the design of the system home buyers select.
"It's important to realize that not all fire sprinkler systems are created equal," says Jayson Drake, senior product manager, Plumbing and Fire Safety, for Uponor North America. "While the goal of any sprinkler system is to suppress the fire long enough for first responders to arrive, there are significant differences in fire sprinkler design, performance and maintenance costs."
A growing number of new-home builders are choosing multipurpose fire sprinklers over traditional standalone or independent systems because of their affordability and ease of installation.
"The same plumber who installs the kitchen sink can install the fire sprinklers, saving builders time and expense," explains Drake, whose company has been manufacturing such systems for more than a decade.
A multipurpose system combines the cold-water plumbing and the fire sprinkler system into one. The alternative requires three separate sets of pipes – two for the home's hot- and cold-water plumbing and a third for the standalone fire sprinkler system.
Since just two sets of pipes are required, multipurpose systems install up to 65 percent faster and can cost as much as 15 percent less than traditional systems.
A key benefit of these interconnected, multipurpose systems is reliability – homeowners know the system is working each time they use a faucet, flush a toilet or water their lawn.
In fact, some fire officials prefer multipurpose systems for this very reason – homeowners cannot inadvertently shut off fire protection to their homes.
"If the shower is working, so is the multipurpose fire sprinkler system," says Drake, who says that there is no similar "verification" for standalone systems, other than annual maintenance inspections.
Another important distinction between multipurpose and traditional standalone fire sprinkler systems is that the latter requires several additional pieces of equipment to operate.
Standalone sprinkler systems require a backflow preventer, a check valve and, depending on the municipality, a separate water meter, which can add up to $5,000.
As more states require this life-safety technology, costs of both standalone and multipurpose fire sprinkler systems are expected to decline.
Read more, including a longer version of this article and hi-res images, at:http://uponor.oreilly-depalma.com/2010/cost_saving_sprinklers.shtml
Uponor, Inc. (Apple Valley, Minn.) is a leading supplier of plumbing, fire safety and radiant heating and cooling systems for the residential and commercial building markets in the United States. For more information, visit www.uponor-usa.com or call (800) 321-4739.