NEW NATIONAL SURVEY SHOWS A
MAJORITY OF HOMEOWNERS BELIEVE THAT FIRE SPRINKLERS INCREASE A HOME’S
Builders who install fire sprinklers as standard
are seen as innovative and caring.
Quincy, MA – In a new national poll commissioned
by the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) and conducted by
Harris Interactive®, 45 percent of U.S. homeowners said a sprinklered
home is more desirable than an unsprinklered home, most often because
of the added safety provided by the sprinklers (51%).
The survey also found that 69 percent of homeowners believe
having a fire sprinkler system increases the value of a home, and 38
percent say they would be more likely to purchase a new home with sprinklers
than one without.
HFSC commissioned the December 2005 survey of 1,019 U.S.
adults (620 of whom own a house) in order to measure awareness of residential
fire sprinkler systems and gauge feelings toward builders who install
fire sprinklers as a standard feature of a new home.
While fire sprinkler systems have been in wide use commercially for more
than a century, the technology has only been applied to homes for about
25 years. Sprinklers are common in office buildings, hotels and hospitals,
yet still relatively rare in single-family homes. “It’s ironic
and very unfortunate that the places where people are most likely to
die in fires are the least likely to be protected by sprinklers,” says
HFSC Chair Gary Keith.
Thousands of people die from home fires each year in the
U.S., Keith says. Fire sprinkler systems are recognized by leading fire
safety groups as representing the single most effective built-in protection
from home fire deaths. Yet widespread misconceptions about sprinklers
apparently undermine interest in the technology among both homeowners
and home builders. For 48 percent of homeowners, a fear of water damage
would prevent them from installing a home sprinkler system.
The water damage myth and other erroneous information are
prevalent and often fueled by Hollywood stunts and special effects. In
fact, water damage is no more likely with fire sprinklers than it is
with other household plumbing, says Keith. “Fire sprinkler mishaps
are rare. Sprinklers activate individually and only in response to the
high temperature of a growing fire. Smoke cannot and will not cause a
sprinkler to operate.”
The HFSC survey showed that 63 percent of homeowners were aware fire
sprinklers are available for home use. Builders who offer fire sprinklers
as a standard feature of new homes fared well in the study. These builders
are seen by homeowners as being “safety concerned” (70%), “innovative” (52%),
and “caring” (51%). Thirty-nine percent of homeowners said
they would be more likely to hire such a builder to build their house
over a builder that does not offer fire sprinklers as a standard feature.
The increased safety provided by sprinkler systems is also
well understood. When thinking about building a new home, many homeowners
say they would prefer to install a fire sprinkler system over other amenities,
such as cabinet upgrades (35%) and hardwood floors (36%). And if the
cost of sprinklers could be included in the mortgage, 43 percent of homeowners
said they would be more likely to have home fire sprinklers installed.
While most (85%) homeowners say they completely trust the
fire department as a source for information about fire sprinklers, about
two in five homeowners (40%) say they completely trust home builders
for these details.
Harris Interactive® conducted the telephone survey
on behalf of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition between December 16 and
19, 2005 among a nationwide cross section of 1,019 U.S. adults ages 18
and over, 620 of whom own a house. Figures for age, sex, race, and region
were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions
in the population. In theory, with a probability sample of this size,
one can say with 95 percent certainty that the overall results have a
sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they would
be if the entire U.S. adult population had been polled with complete
accuracy. The sampling error for the sample of U.S. adults who own a
house is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition has developed a comprehensive
package of information solely for home builders, including print and
video pieces designed with new home buyers in mind. To learn more about
home fire sprinkler systems and request free materials, visit HFSC’s
Web site: www.homefiresprinkler.org.