Tahoe Chief’s Corner: How sprinklers can help save your home from fire | SierraSun.com

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Tahoe Chief’s Corner: How sprinklers can help save your home from fire

Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz

Fires in the home pose one of the biggest threats to the people of our community. An average of 367,000 home fires occur nationally each year, killing 2,500 people.

The theme for Fire Prevention Week is “Don’t Wait, Check the Date” reminding us to not let our smoke alarms expire. Smoke alarms are a necessary implement in the home, and should be taken seriously.

Another way to protect your home and family from a home fire is the installation of home sprinkler systems. Home fire sprinklers in coordination with smoke alarms have been proven to protect lives and property against fire.

In fact, sprinklers cut the risk of dying in a home fire by an astounding 80 percent. Sprinkler systems respond quickly to reduce the heat, flames, and smoke from a fire, giving families valuable time to get to safety.

Unfortunately, there are many stubborn misconceptions about home fire sprinklers that make some homeowners reluctant to install sprinklers in their homes. Many people believe it is common for sprinklers to operate accidentally, however this is actually extremely rare.

In a typical home, water damage will be considerably less from unwanted sprinkler discharges than from other plumbing mishaps. Another misconception is that cigar smoke and burned toast will cause a sprinkler to operate.

The reality is, only the high temperature that results from a fire will activate the sprinkler. Lastly, all of the sprinklers do not activate at once. This scenario may be common in movies and TV shows, but it just isn’t true for home fire sprinklers. Only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates. Ninety percent of the time, one sprinkler contains the fire.

Model safety codes now require the use of home fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. These requirements offer the highest level of safety to protect the people of our community.

Home fire sprinklers give you added protection from fire and peace of mind. North Tahoe Fire and Meeks Bay Fire encourage the use of these devices.

If you are building a new home, ask your builder about installing sprinklers in your home. Free information for both builders and homeowners is available by contacting the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Visit homefiresprinkler.org to learn more.

Michael Schwartz joined the North Tahoe Fire Protection District as its Fire Chief in 2012, after serving 29 years with a neighboring fire agency. Along with his wife Jean, they have been a part of the Lake Tahoe community since 1978.