A letter in the March issue (“IRC Sprinkler Rule Misinformed”) suggests that residential fire sprinklers are not worth the expense when considering lives saved. The writer may not be aware of other savings. I have designed commercial buildings in rural areas where the owner also had to install the water lines and water storage tanks for fire protection. I forget the particulars, but recall that for one building of a given size, the Uniform Fire Code required that a “fire flow” of 1,000 gallons per minute had to be sustained for three hours. This meant the site needed 180,000 gallons of water storage in addition to domestic water needs. If the building was sprinklered, though, the fire flow was allowed to be reduced by half — saving the cost of one large water tank.
A friend in the local volunteer fire department told me of a nearby city that requires residential sprinklers. This city saves substantially because it can get by with smaller water mains and water storage tanks, fewer fire hydrants, and possibly smaller, less expensive fire engines and fewer firefighters.
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