Are Fire Sprinklers Green? Study to Probe the Environmental Impact of Home Fires

The nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) is partnering with FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers, on an unprecedented research project to identify, analyze and evaluate the environmental impact caused by home fires–a topic of increasing international importance.

In October 2009, FM Global will conduct full-scale fire tests to compare the environmental impact of sprinklered and non-sprinklered home fires. The tests will be conducted at FM Global’s 1,600 acre, $125-million Research Campus in West Glocester, Rhode Island, USA.

“The Board of HFSC is pleased to partner with FM Global on this project,” says Gary Keith, HFSC chair. “Sprinklers are proven to save lives and protect property. We know sprinklers also provide environmental benefits—benefits we will only be able to prove through scientific study.”

When sprinklers activate, they control the heat, flames and smoke of a home fire, effectively mitigating the products of combustion. “The expectation is that a reduction in combustion also results in lessened pollution,” Keith adds. “It’s time to formally determine those qualities as well as the potential for reduced water-related impact. There’s never been a better time to do a study like this because interest is at an all time high.”

The results of the research will establish:

  • The types, quantity and duration of air and water pollutants released from a home fire as well as the water usage from fire sprinklers and firefighters’ hoses.
  • The environmental impact resulting from burning household furnishings and finish materials as well as disposing the fire-damaged contents of a home.
  • The carbon footprint associated with rebuilding a burnt home.

Following completion of the research, FM Global will publish a report documenting the test results and findings. HFSC and FM Global will make the report available to the public at no cost, in early 2010.

“Understanding the environmental benefits of fire protection in our homes provides a common basis to improve sustainable residential and commercial development,” says Dr. Louis Gritzo, vice president and manager of research at FM Global. “This joint project is a natural tie-in to recently released technical research by FM Global showing ways businesses can be more environmentally sustainable by reducing their vunerabilities to fire and natural disaster risks.”

The nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) (www.homefiresprinkler.org) is a national, 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused solely on educational outreach. It is the leading resource for independent, noncommercial information about residential fire sprinklers.

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