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Do I need both a fire alarm and fire sprinkler?

Fire alarms will alert people in your building of a fire; however, they will do nothing to extinguish the fire. Working smoke alarms reduce your risk of dying in a fire by 50 percent. Sprinklers, on the other hand, work fast to reduce heat, flames, and smoke from a fire, reducing the risk of dying by as much as 80 percent.

Still, fire sprinklers have many opponents. Most cite the NFPA statistic that fire alarms are 99.45% effective in reducing deaths from fire. This does not count the fact that buildings without working fire alarms still have a 98.87 percent effectiveness. These statistics are based on “chance of survival,” which is separate from “risk of fire death.”

This does not mean you should only install fire sprinklers and forgo fire alarms completely. Instead,  you should install both to work in tandem to keep your building, data, equipment, and occupants completely protected.

Here are a few more facts about fire sprinklers:

  • Each sprinkler operates independently of other sprinklers.
  • Loss records from FM Research indicate that the probability of a sprinkler accidentally going off, or going off due to a manufacturing defect, is only 1 in about 16,000,000—you have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting soaked by a fire sprinkler accidentally going off!
  • A NIST study reports that fire sprinkler systems can reduce your chance of dying in a building fire by as much as 82 percent!
  • Aside from fire fighter and explosion fatalities, there has never been a multiple loss of life (3 or more people) recorded in a fully sprinklered building.
  • Smoke detectors do not control fires; fire sprinklers control fires and slow or stop the production of lethal smoke and toxic fire gases.
  • Sprinklers are affordable, often costing only $1-2 per sqft!

In addition, fire sprinklers reduce civilian deaths in certain buildings by:

  • 60 percent for manufacturing properties
  • 74 percent for store and offices
  • 75 percent for nursing homes
  • 91 percent for hotels and motels

If you have any additional questions about your fire sprinkler system in New Jersey, Delaware, or Philadelphia, including how often it needs to be inspected or tested, call Confires today!

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