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How Much Does a Fire Sprinkler System Cost?

Author: Ashley Smith

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Sprinkler systems save lives. There’s no doubt about it. The National Fire Protection Association reports that no more not many are injured due to fire or smoke in a fully sprinklered building when the system is operating properly. Fire alarm sprinkler systems also prevent property damage. The sprinklers quickly reduce a fire’s heat, flames, and smoke. They help keep fires contained to a small area from spreading to other parts of the building until the firefighters arrive.

Some local building codes require the installation of commercial sprinklers; others do not. Check with your local building department to find out about the laws in your city or town. Few insurance companies mandate sprinklers, but most recommend them and offer discounted rates to building owners who install them.

Sprinkler System Average Costs

Small businesses or homeowners might spend a few thousand dollars to install a fire sprinkler system while large corporations could spend hundreds of thousands. The price depends on a variety of factors.

  • A complete sprinkler system for new construction generally costs $1 to $2 per square foot including all equipment and installation.
  • Retrofitting an existing building is more expensive - usually about $2 to $7 per square foot.
  • High rise building retrofitting usually costs $2 to $4 per square foot.
  • In rare cases, historic buildings can cost $10 or more per square foot to retrofit. This occurs only when there are strict design standards to meet the building’s aesthetic requirements.

Despite the cost, insurance companies offer steep discounts for building or home owners that install fire sprinkler systems - sometimes as much as 60%.

About Fire Alarm Sprinkler Systems

Automatic fire sprinklers are heat activated on an individual basis. They’re connected to piping with pressurized water and are only activated when the heat in the building raises the sprinkler to a preset temperature.

There are a lot of myths about fire sprinkler systems. Few of which have merit. It is extremely rare for a sprinkler system to malfunction by activating when it shouldn’t or failing to activate when it should. Contrary to popular belief, just because one sprinkler is activated doesn’t mean every sprinkler in the building is activated. Only the sprinklers detecting excessive heat will release water.

When you’re shopping for a sprinkler system dealer, request quotes from multiple companies to find the best balance of price, quality and service. Cost is important, but good design is also crucial. Look for a company that specializes in fire alarm sprinkler systems and is willing to provide references.

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