SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Residential Sprinkler Systems
By Andy Rauwolf


December 28, 2007

Right now, Ketchikan's officials are considering a mandate that would require the installation of fire sprinkler systems in all new homes. While their goal is admirable, the solution is not! Requiring sprinklers in new single family homes will price homes out of reach for many potential homeowners. It will enrich sprinkler manufactures but will not prevent tragedy where it is likely to occur, because new homes are least likely to have fires.

Today's homes are built far safer than ever before. With code upgraded electrical systems and building materials, central heating systems and increased insulation requirements that have reduced the need for portable space heaters (a major cause in fire deaths), fire separation between the house and the garage, fire blocking and draft stops located in concealed spaces to prevent the spread of fire, and fire rated doors, additional time is provided for occupants to get out of the house after the alarm sounds.

New homes are also safer because they have escape windows in bedrooms. These windows must meet minimum size requirements and must be no more than 44 inches from the opening to the floor to make getting out of the house quicker, and also make it easier for fire fighters to get in if they need to.

The most effective safety feature required in new homes is an interconnected and hard-wired smoke alarm system. With these new systems, if one alarm sounds, they will all go off alerting the whole family to a possible fire and giving them time to get out alive.
Smoke alarms are 96.3% effective in preventing fire fatalities, not expensive sprinkler systems (over $28,000 in some parts of Alaska) that are triggered several minutes after smoke alarms go off.

Call your council members today and let them know that an expensive fire sprinkler mandate is not the answer for fatal home fires. Working smoke alarms and fire safety education plans are. We need to increase our focus on older homes and manufactured homes, where nearly all home fire fatalities occur.

Andy Rauwolf
Thirty Year Ketchikan Builder
Ketchikan, AK

Received December 27, 2007 - Published December 28, 2007


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Ketchikan, Alaska