Below you will find some excellant information sent to me by Mike Love.
I have been digging around at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) looking for
reports and work they have completed that may be of assistance to fire marshals in promoting fire and life safety. One item I discovered I think will be beneficial in some of the conflicts that often arise over cost effectiveness of residential fire sprinklers. It is a Web-tool called Sprinkler Use Decisioning that offers to “facilitate economic analysis of residential fire sprinklers at the homeowner and community level.” I thought this tool sounded useful so I wanted to bring it to your attention with the goal of seeing the tool’s use in real situations. But before I introduce the Web-tool let me provide some background
of the residential sprinkler economic challenge by opponents and the basis for the usefulness of this tool.
Builders like to use the argument that residential sprinklers add significant cost to a new home with little added safety value. Fire and life safety professionals disagree and in fact experience that the cost per square foot is very reasonable. The Fire Protection Research Foundation issued a report (Click Here) Home Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment, Final Report – September 10, 2008 providing evaluated costs from an analysis of 30 different home plans with residential fire sprinklers. Their findings conclude,
“The cost of sprinkler systems to the homebuilder, in dollars per sprinklered [square foot (SF)] SF, ranged from $0.38 to $3.66. This range represents the 30 different house plans, with the average cost being $1.61 per sprinklered SF.”
Within that range the low cost was in a California community with a sprinkler requirement that has been in place for many years; the higher cost in the range was for a home in the mountains of Colorado using a well and pump, copper piping and a system designed to prevent freezing. The Foundation report and many others have established concretely what the costs are for builders to provide residential sprinklers. But what about the cost compared to the benefit of sprinklers, can this be determined conveniently in promoting residential sprinklers? Researchers at NIST examined benefits and costs across three typical single family housing types: colonial, townhouse and ranch. Installation costs are higher in colonials and lowest in ranch homes. This is not surprising as it reflects size differences and configuration of the floors. The researchers concluded in the 2007 report Benefit-Cost Analysis of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems, by David T. Butry, M. Hayden Brown and Sieglinde K. Fuller that,
“The benefits experienced by residents of single-family dwellings with sprinkler systems, as measured in this report, include reductions in the following: the risk of civilian fatalities and injuries, homeowner insurance premiums, uninsured direct property losses, and uninsured indirect costs. The primary costs examined are for initial purchase and installation of the sprinkler system. Maintenance and repair costs are not examined because they are negligible.”
These are the kinds of benefits the fire and life safety industry began pursuing in the 1970s when residential sprinkler prototypes and a national standard were being created. The report can be found
at this link (Click Here) NISTIR 7451: Benefit-Cost Analysis of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems. But that is all just background. What I wanted to let know about is an on-line calculator that you can use to actually come up with a tangible analysis of your benefit compared to your investment. This can be of value when presenting sprinklers as a solution for reduced risk in your community.
Here is what the developer of the Sprinkler Use Decisioning says about the on-line tool.
Sprinkler Use Decisioning is a Web-tool designed to facilitate economic analysis of residential fire sprinklers at the homeowner and community level. It uses the economic framework developed
in NIST Interagency Report 7451 (Benefit-Cost Analysis of Residential Sprinklers), which was used to measure the economic performance of a fire sprinkler system installed in a newly constructed, single-family house. Using the tool, the benefits and costs of sprinkler installation and use can be evaluated to determine whether sprinkler adoption is cost effective for either an individual homeowner or for an entire community.
The tool is comprised of four labeled ‘tabs.’ Two tabs are used to input the baseline and sensitivity analysis values. The other two tabs summarize the baseline and sensitivity analysis
results. A help feature is also provided.
As mentioned above there is a help feature associated with the tool. The document associated with the help feature can be accessed by (clicking here). Navigating to this help document provides significant
insight into the underlying formulas, data and assumptions as well as a simulation of the tool to show how it works.
I hope that people will begin to kick the tires on this useful Web-tool and provide feedback as to how it has worked for them, and or any problems they may have had. I am sure that if it is needed we can put people directly in touch with the authors for interaction and feedback. When you have an opportunity
experience this Web-tool let us know how it worked for you.
Once again a special thanks to Mike Love for all he does for the fire service of america.