If you had to guess if a sprinklered facility or an unsprinklered facility consumed more water during a fire incident, which facility would you choose? The Fire Protection Research Foundation conducted a study to answer that question and recently released its results in “Fire Flow Water Consumption in Sprinklered and Unsprinklered Buildings: An Assessment of Community Impacts”. The study found, during a fire incident, the amount of water consumed by a facility with an automatic sprinkler system is less than that of a facility that is not equipped with a sprinkler system.

The purpose of the research was to assess the impacts of communities in relation to water consumption. According to the National Fire Protection Association:

Water authorities have introduced strategies over the past three decades to recover costs for water consumed in sprinklered buildings. These fees are typically not related to the actual sprinkler flow, but address the fact that these flows are not metered and therefore not accounted for in conventional cost recovery systems. Fires that occur in unsprinklered properties that utilize water from hydrants, which are not metered, are typically not subject to fees. As a result, the study found that an owner of an unsprinklered building received the full benefit of unlimited water through the public water system during a fire without an increased cost, while the owner of a sprinklered building pays for the water used for commissioning, inspection, testing and maintenance (CITM) of the sprinkler system.

The study analyzed the total fire protection water consumption during a fire incident within various building types with and without sprinklers. Facility types included residential, business, assembly, institutional, mercantile, and storage buildings. In addition to analyzing standard estimates of expected water use in buildings with and without sprinklers, the Foundation also included estimates of water used during commissioning, inspection, testing, and maintenance of those buildings with sprinkler systems.

Through detailed analysis, the report demonstrated that in all scenarios that were studied, the water consumed during a fire in a facility with a sprinkler system was less than a building that did not have a sprinkler system. To read the full report of this interesting study, click here.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.