A COALITION TOUTING THE life-saving and financial benefits of residential fire sprinkler systems has received a grant of nearly $600,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to implement a national awareness program largely aimed at builders.

The initiative, dubbed “Built for Life,” will include a pilot model-home program conducted in 10 U.S. markets as well as a national education and outreach component. The pilot program will partner home builders with sprinkler contractors and fire department staff members to install automatic sprinkler systems in selected model homes. The coalition will provide on-site training and targeted educational materials for employees and new-home buyers as well as other incentives.

The coalition cites a 15-year study that examines the effects of a 1986 residential sprinkler ordinance in Scottsdale, Ariz. The study found that no deaths occurred from the 49 fires in homes with sprinklers; in homes without sprinklers, 13 people died. Measured in dollar losses, homes with no sprinklers experienced an average loss of $45,019. The average loss for homes with sprinklers between 1998 and 2001 was only $2,166. (Data was not available prior to 1998).

Among the talking points that the coalition is eager to bring to builders and the public is that because each sprinkler in a home is individually activated by heat, only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates. According to the coalition, 90 percent of all home fires are contained with a single sprinkler.