Union Fire Co., with the help from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, is taking on debunking myths surrounding home fire sprinkler systems. Fire Marshal and Union Assistant Fire Chief Michael Rugh listed a few myths and sent out a news release from the National Fire Protection Association that also took issue with other common misunderstandings.
• Myth: Home sprinkler systems will flood the home. Home sprinkler systems will only activate in the room with the fire — not the entire house. Comparatively, the water damage would also be much less than if the fire company hosed down the entire house. Fire departments typically use about 10 times as much water as a fire sprinkler would to contain a fire.
• Myth: Smoke will activate the system. Cigar smoke, burnt toast and other common items that generate smoke will not activate a home sprinkler system. Only the high temperature of a fire will activate it.
• Myth: They’re ineffective in winter. Home sprinkler systems have guidelines to ensure proper installation to avoid pipes freezing, though the system should be winterized the same as winterizing a domestic water supply. The sprinklers are still effective in cold and warm climates.
• Myth: Sprinkler heads are easy to break and therefore easy to accidentally activate the system. Sprinkler heads don’t all look the same, and there are types that are sturdy and would be very difficult to activate with a sudden bump from a thrown football or toy.
• Myth: Sprinklers would be ineffective or cause harm in an electrical fire. Rugh said that electrical fires are of a concern to firefighters when dealing with businesses that have large electronics that require a lot of electricity. The electricity flowing through a home and most small businesses is not enough to cause concern during a fire. The water hitting a burning television or coffee maker would also cause the breaker to close, cutting off the worry for an electrical fire, according to Rugh.
• Myth: Sprinklers waste water. Home fire sprinklers are environmentally friendly, and can reduce the amount of water run-off and pollution from fire damage by up to 70 percent, compared to homes in which fire departments responded. Water usage to fight a home fire would be reduced by as much as 91 percent.