Residential Fire Spinkler Effectiveness Demonstration from the Orange County Fire Authority

This video from the Orange County Fire Authority examines the effectiveness of residential sprinklers and discusses some of the myths associated with the suppression systems for homes.

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9 responses to “Residential Fire Spinkler Effectiveness Demonstration from the Orange County Fire Authority

  1. Fantastic demonstration. All Cecil County Commissioners and the professional staff should see this!!! I believe it says it all.

    • Richard, thanks once again for sharing your expertise as a professional engineer, specialing in fire protection systems. Facts about the efficiacy of sprinklers were hard to hear as lots of people talked about how they aren’t effective and problems with them such as leakage, maintenance, freezing, etc. Most of those speakers problem weren’ta ware that these aren’t like industrial spirnklers and there’s an entirely different set of standards for them, the NFPA 13D.

  2. Mike,
    I must agree with my fellow patriots “the wolf” and Rahool, the imposition of sprinklers is certainly on the slippery slope of complete government control. In fact, there should be no motorcycle helmet restrictions, seat belts, speed limits, or especially, building codes at all. Like our four fathers said “live free and die!”

    Sincerely Ben Franklin

  3. Ben Franklin

    Old Ben, as one of our first volunteer firefighters, very good to hear from you on this discussion. While we disagree with your conclusions, we do agree that the better argument is in the area of government regulation. That was the logical one to make, not the one about effectivenss of residential sprinklers. Qualified Organizations such as the NFPA, the National Fire Administraiton, the Fire Protection Engineering Society, and many more have talked about how spriniklers are effective. In fact, to Commissioner Hodge’s credit, he made that point very clear when he introduced this latest motion. He said the debate isn’t about the effectivness sprinklers for they are effective. He concern was in the area of regulatory ovesight and things of that type, not whether sprinklers have been approriately engineered to safely and cost-effectively installed in homes and whether they save lives. At the public hearing, though, lots of people wanted to address the problems with sprinkler technologies. Anyway, whatever the case, thanks for sharing your perspective Ben. We’re glad to have a range or viewpoints on Someone Noticed.

  4. Ambassador (to France) Franklin,
    As I recall, during your day paid subscriptions/memberships were required in order to have your residential fires extinguished. A plaque was mounted on the home to indicate coverage, and if a competing fire company responded they watched as your home burned. What a difference in today’s world, where our community fire companies co-operate to provide excellent protection.

  5. My memory of the hearing was not that sprinklers were not efficient in killing fires, but the cost/benefit concerns, loss of more economic freedom and whether or not they would be a primary instrument to save lives in a single family dwelling were the citizens’ concerns. Those who were pro sprinkler dismissed citizens concerns since safety rules.

    Speakers said that building codes and home furnishings now provide less time to escape a fire in modern construction. I have no expertise on that subject, but a sprinkler system must see at the head (nozzle)155 degrees but a smoke detector can detect paint fumes from overheated flue paint 20 feet away. I had an overheated wood stove last year and I heard the detector alarm from over 40 feet away in my basement with 4-90 turns between me and the detector. To me, as a former safety system test engineer and industrial firefighter, smoke detectors save lives; sprinklers protect property in single family dwellings. I do, however, support sprinklers for commercial buildings because of the ratio of people to exits and for multi family buildings such as apartments and condos because of one resident’s impact on others.

    Yet, to my knowledge, the lack of sprinklers and smoke detectors in existing homes, apartments and condos is seldom addressed. We ignore the 10s of millions who live in existing residences, many with the same modern construction materials, and even substandard houses and apartments that are at great risk from fires. And yes, there are severe economic impacts and civil rights issues with inspections and mandates in retrofitting existing buildings. As I heard one proponent of sprinkler systems say to his fellow proponents, retrofitting American homes would cost trillions. He was correct, but I ask, isn’t it worth it? If not, be honest, why isn’t it. Don’t these same factors apply to the new sprinkler code? Or should such fire safety only be for those middle and upper middle class citizens who may be able to afford it in new construction?

    It is apparent to me that economic issues and civil liberties are only a factor for the pro sprinkler people when the issue is much less complicated and does not involve serious social issues. The 4 that died in the recent Indian Acres fire had no smoke alarms or the infrastructure for a sprinkler system even if they could afford one. The safety issue was effectively kicked down the road for another 5 years with Indian Acres. These are the kind of situations that makes me wonder about the push for sprinkler systems in new homes when I fail to see a similar emphasis from officials or a public interest in fire safety for existing dwellings.

  6. Al thanks for sharing your perspective. Out of the over 60 speakers only a few spoke about sprinkler effectiveness. I think it was about 6 (something in that range0, but the audio recording will show that exactly. By far, the largest number addressed concerns about govermental regulations, cost benefit ratios, and the right of the individual to decide as they encouraged the county make it optional.

    In the interest of addressing the technical remarks and sharing data on that, we made a couple of remarks about that matter and also shared some videos showing their effectiveness. Those remarks generated far more conversation than we anticipated. I had realized it was going to create such a dialogue, we could have set-up two columns to allow Joe and I to both make our points in a full post.

    Whatever the case with the technical data, there are arguments that have to be considered on those other points, and we recognize that. Thanks for sharing your insights on some of the other arguments about the regulatory nature of things.

    As we listened to lots of other speakers make their case, we thought Stephen England’s remarks were well crafted and presented. Since he prepared h is comments formally, we thought we try to get up with him after the meeting to see if we could publish his paper, but the meeting had gone so long and the crowd was so large, that didn’t happen. He effectively stated the case for not mandating sprinklers and it would’ve been good to share those remarks for a wider audiences consideration. That might have generated a constructive discussion about points that need to be debated, too.

    Of course many people made effective points on those considerations.

    thanks Al

  7. I’ll contact Mr. England and see if he is willing to talk to you.

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