Get the Facts About Sprinkler Systems

Hollywood movies are filled with myths about fire sprinkler systems.
Get the facts from the experts at Cascade Fire Protection.



“A smoke alarm provides enough protection.”

Working smoke alarms can alert occupants to the presence of danger, but do nothing to extinguish the fire. In a fire, sprinklers can control and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive.

“Newer homes are safer homes.”

Today’s home fires become deadly in as little as 2 minutes. In a fire, unprotected lightweight construction materials, used in many modern homes, burn quicker and fail faster. New homes often contain modern furnishings made of synthetic materials that, in a fire, can create a highly toxic environment, greater fuel load, and faster fire propagation.

“Home fire sprinklers often leak or activate accidentally.”

Leaks are rare, and are no more likely than leaks from a home’s plumbing system. Home fire sprinklers are calibrated to activate when there is significant heat change–typically at 135-165° F. Sprinklers don’t operate in response to smoke, cooking vapors, steam, or the sound of a smoke alarm.

“When a fire occurs, every sprinkler will activate and everything in the house will be ruined.”

Home fire sprinklers operate independently. In the event of a fire, typically only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire, leaving the rest of the house dry and secure. In roughly nine of every 10 home fires with operating sprinklers, just one sprinkler operates.

“Sprinklers are unattractive and will ruin the aesthetics of the home.”

New home fire sprinkler models are very unobtrusive, can be mounted flush with walls or ceilings, and can be concealed behind decorative covers.

“Sprinklers are not practical in colder climates, as the pipes will freeze and cause water damage.”

With proper installation, sprinklers will not freeze. NFPA 13D, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes, includes guidelines on proper insulation to prevent pipes from freezing.

“The water damage caused by sprinklers will be more extensive than fire damage.”

In a fire, sprinklers quickly control flames, heat, and smoke. Any water damage from the sprinkler will typically be much less severe than the damage caused by water from firefighting hose lines. Sprinklers use approximately 90 percent less water on a fire than a fire department hose line would.

From National Fire Protection Association, May 2020

When it comes to sprinkler systems, trust the experts at Cascade Fire Protection, Inc.