There are five common excuses for why construction sites don’t install sprinklers. It could be that they cost too much money, or the construction company has never had need of them before; they could be seen as a waste of time, there’s already a clear fire prevention plan in place, or they don’t want to run the risk of accidental discharge.
While these excuses may have some merit, there is always greater reason to ensure added protection during your build by considering sprinkler installation early on in the construction process.
1) Excuse #1: Sprinklers cost too much
Perhaps sprinklers are expensive, but fires are often much more costly. According to the Arson Prevention Bureau, many buildings never fully recover from the devastation of fire resulting in losing orders, contracts, equipment, and key employees. Even a small fire can delay the completion of a building, potentially activating the penalty clauses of a contract, increasing customer dissatisfaction, and provoking negative reviews.
2) Excuse #2: We’ve been in the Construction biz for years and have never had a fire
Good for you! However, there are on average between 4500-4800 construction fires in the USA per year, which is more than a dozen construction fires per day! They can be the result of worker accidents involving equipment, extreme hot weather, or arson, while many causes remain unknown. It is not enough to bank on a fire-free record when it comes to future build projects.
3) Excuse #3: It takes up unnecessary time
When it comes to your site, stop thinking temporarily and install your permanent sprinkler system as you go. Many builders follow NFPA 241 which is the industry standard for safeguarding construction, alteration and demolition operations. Therefore, it would make the most sense to install the main piping system as soon as possible and attach the heads to where the drops are going to be positioned. The only additional time this takes would be installing and then removing these heads when it is time to drywall the ceiling.
4) Excuse #4: We follow NFPA 241 to give us a clear fire prevention plan that protects our sites sufficiently
Even when NFPA 241 is followed, construction sites by their very nature are at a high risk for fire. On top of that, according to a 2008 study by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), today’s lightweight construction materials collapse faster than traditional wood at a rate of 6 minutes vs 18-and-a-half minutes for the “legacy materials”. To reduce the amount of damage, a clear fire prevention plan must include a suppression strategy that responds before a fire can get out of control. That’s where proactive measures of early sprinkler installation are so valuable. Sprinklers are proven to do the best job of containing and extinguishing a fire if and when it happens.
5) Excuse #5: There’s the risk of accidental discharge with sprinkler heads
Fear of water damage from accidental sprinkler discharge is the number one reason sprinklers are not installed. While sprinklers help contain and extinguish a fire, in the case of accidental discharge, the key is shutting off the sprinkler head fast, rather than avoiding the installation of the entire sprinkler system. To respond to accidental discharge, have a Shutgun tool on every floor or in an easily-accessible location to shut off fire sprinklers fast without causing further damage to the site or equipment.
Protecting your site from fire begins with a plan. By not prioritizing fire sprinklers, your site is at a much higher risk of being damaged by fire, which can easily result in more time, labour, and money spent!