Fire sprinklers are often viewed as an unavoidable expense in construction projects, which is necessary to meet building codes. However, an automatic sprinkler system brings many benefits in the long run, in addition to fire protection. Building owners may be eligible for reduced insurance premiums thanks to automatic sprinklers, and commercial spaces for rent become more attractive for tenants due to the added fire protection.
Depending on the occupancy classification of a building, automatic sprinklers can be mandatory or optional. However, fire protection engineers recommend them regardless, considering their effectiveness against fire.
- Automatic sprinkler systems have lower installation costs in new constructions, since there are no existing building elements to remove.
- On the other hand, a sprinkler installation in an existing property is disruptive for walls and ceilings, but it can be included with a major renovation to minimize the impact.
- Fire sprinkler installation can also be combined with building system upgrades to minimize disruption. For example, a lighting upgrade also involves ceiling work, and it can be carried out simultaneously.
Protect your building from fire damage with automatic sprinklers.
Why Insurance Companies Like Fire Sprinklers
The insurance business consists on charging more than what is paid back in claims. Since automatic sprinklers extinguish fire when the damage is still small, they lead to much lower insurance claims. Having clients with sprinklered buildings is in the best interest of insurance companies. For this reason, insurance companies can afford to give much lower premiums.
Reduced insurance payments add up during the service life of a building, helping compensate the additional upfront cost of an automatic sprinkler system. When fire sprinklers are optional and the project owner decides not to use them, insurance becomes more expensive and the building is much more vulnerable to fire damage.
Contrary to popular belief, a fire sprinkler system does not shower the entire building interior as shown in the movies. Automatic sprinklers respond individually and only release water directly above the fire, which means there will be no water damage in unaffected areas. It is also important to note that sprinklers respond directly to heat, and not smoke as depicted in movies and TV series.
Deluge fire sprinkler systems have a specific design that fully showers the covered area. However, this type is only used in applications that are very vulnerable to fire, such as storage areas with flammable materials. The sprinkler systems found in offices and other commercial locations are designed for localized action, and will not release water over unaffected areas.
Using Automatic Sprinklers as a Real Estate Marketing Tool
Lower rental rates make commercial spaces more attractive for tenants, but developers can also provide added value with improved building services. For example, if two buildings have identical spaces and rental rates, tenants will choose based on factors like energy efficiency and fire safety. All other factors being equal, a sprinklered building will be preferred over an unprotected one, especially when tenants bring in their staff and assets. Tenants may even be willing to pay a higher rental rate if it comes with increased fire protection and other benefits.
On the other hand, deficient fire protection exposes developers to legal action from tenants if there is a major fire. Consider that these liabilities are added to the reparation costs, increasing the financial impact of a fire event. Finally, an uncontrolled fire can have human consequences like major injuries and casualties.
In addition to providing effective fire protection, automatic sprinklers make buildings eligible for reduced insurance premiums. When commercial spaces are developed for rent, sprinklers also provide a marketing advantage, helping attract tenants who are concerned with fire safety.
However, an automatic sprinkler system can become very expensive when the layout is poorly planned. To optimize the cost of a fire sprinkler installation, the best recommendation is getting a professional assessment from fire protection engineers. They can determine the most suitable type of sprinkler head, as well as the optimal layout for full coverage.