Residential Fire Sprinkler FAQ

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Common Questions and Answers on Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems

Since 2003 the Village of Mount Prospect has required residential fire sprinklers in all new homes and in some home additions.  Residential fire sprinklers are the best way to protect lives in a fire situation within a home.  They are not intended to save property or minimize damage to a home.  Instead sprinklers in a residential setting are designed to provide more time for the occupants to exit the home to safety.

The following is a list of common questions or myths that involve residential sprinklers:

Q:  What if a sprinkler pipe freezes or bursts when I am not home?  Doesn’t this risk outweigh the benefits?

A:  If properly installed there is a very low chance of a sprinkler pipe or head leaking or bursting.  It does happen, but in almost all cases the issue can be traced back to poor installation or lack of insulation around the pipes.  Our Village Inspectors take special care in verifying the systems are installed properly to avoid these types of situations.  If water is flowing, the system provides notification to the Fire Department and the issue can be attended to immediately, whether or not someone is home. 

 

Q:  What if a head just goes off on it’s own?

A:  Sprinkler heads do not go off on their own, they must be activated by flames and heat.  There is a component of a sprinkler head that must melt in order to allow water to flow through it. 

 

Q:  Sprinkler heads are ugly and I don’t want to see them in every room of my house!

A:  There are options for concealed sprinkler heads.  They are a bit more expensive, but for those homeowners that do not want to see them, they can be hidden behind plates.  When activated by fire, they pop out and spray water to suppress the fire. 

 

Q:  How does the Fire Department know there is a fire with a sprinkler system?

A:  A stand alone sprinkler system has a flow switch that measure when water is moving through a pipe.  In a normal situation, no water is flowing through the sprinkler pipes.  Once a head is activated, then water is flowing and activates the switch.  This switch is tied into a notification system and bell that alerts the Fire Department. 

The notification can also be tied into most existing home security systems.  There are a number of options for notification and the Fire Department can help provide guidance on what is necessary and where these items should be located in each situation.

 

Q:  Why are residential sprinklers so expensive?  I cannot afford this system.

A:  Prices can vary greatly depending on the design of the home and the contractor providing the pricing.  The Village always encourages homeowners to get several prices for any work being performed.  In order to help offset the cost of residential sprinklers, the Village has implemented several incentive options for the homeowners.  These include different levels of rebates on permit fees and an alternative construction method with more limited locations for sprinkler heads. 

We strongly encourage all developers, homeowners and contractors to make an appointment to review these incentives early in the design process to help decide the best incentive option for your project.  To schedule an appointment call 847/870-5675 or email building@mountpropsect.org.  There is no fee for this meeting.