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State Fire Marshal promotes Building Safety Month, encourages residential fire sprinkler installations

Monday, May 13, 2013 | 11:50am

NASHVILLE, TN – When you enter a house or other type of building, you assume it is safely and properly constructed, that it complies with state and local building codes. Local safety experts work hard to ensure buildings are safe. To help raise awareness of building safety, the State Fire Marshal’s Office proudly celebrates Building Safety Month during May.

“When our building safety and fire prevention experts inspect buildings during and after construction, they help ensure the places where you live, learn, work, worship and play are safe,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Public safety is something we think about every day as we work with homebuilders, plumbers, roofers and other construction industry professionals.”

Building codes address all aspects of construction, from structural integrity to fire prevention, plumbing and mechanical systems, and energy efficiency. Maintaining building safety requires the active participation of code officials, fire inspectors, architects, builders, engineers, contractors and others in the construction industry – as well as property owners.
“Public safety will always be our No. 1 concern,” said McPeak. “During Building Safety Month and all year long, we want to ensure that Tennesseans are taking every step possible to protect their families, communities and properties from fire loss. That is why we encourage property owners to consider the installation of residential fire sprinklers.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 80 percent of U.S. fire deaths occur in the home. The NFPA reports, however, that the risk of dying in a home fire decreases by about 80 percent when the home is equipped with a fire sprinkler system. The NFPA provides the following information on home fire sprinkler systems:
  • Home fire sprinklers save lives and property. In many situations, a family who has survived a fire will also have their “home” to live in and enough of the items and space in their home to continue living their lives as they did before.
  • Home fire sprinklers can be installed in new or existing homes. If you are remodeling or building your home, install a home fire sprinkler system. If moving into an apartment or condominium building, make sure common areas and individual apartments are sprinklered.
  • The cost of a home fire sprinkler system in a new home averages $1.61 per sprinklered square foot totaling an amount similar to other home upgrades, such as new carpeting. (Source: Fire Protection Research Foundation Study 2008.)
  • A home fire sprinkler system can reduce a homeowner’s insurance premium.
  • Sprinklers activate individually. Only the sprinkler closest to a fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire and not on the rest of the home.
  • Fire departments typically use roughly 10 times more water to contain a fire as a sprinkler would use. (Source: Fire Protection Research Foundation Study 2010.)
  • Fire sprinklers are environmentally friendly. They can reduce the amount of water run-off and pollution, as well as fire damage, by up to 71 percent. They can reduce the amount of water used to fight a home fire by as much as 91 percent. (Source: FM Global and Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition Study 2010.)
  • Cigar smoke or burning toast will not activate a fire sprinkler. Only the high temperature of a fire will activate a sprinkler.
  • A home fire sprinkler system is easy to maintain. Just inspect your home to make sure the sprinklers are not blocked by something that would prevent the water from coming out – such as paint – and be sure the main control valve is never turned off.
  • Home fire sprinklers are effective in cold and warm climates. Guidelines have been created for the proper installation of systems to avoid pipes freezing. A home fire sprinkler system should be winterized the same as you winterize a domestic water supply.
For more information on home fire sprinklers, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s website at
The State Fire Marshal’s Office ( is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance (, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee., @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), (Facebook), (YouTube) 

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