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The Pros & Cons of an Exterior Fire Sprinkler System

First, what is an exterior fire sprinkler system? To prevent the home from burning during a fire, sprinklers are installed on and around the roof and, optionally, on the property around the house.

Pros:

  • The sprinklers soak the roof and house for up to 8 hours during a nearby wildfire with the goal of extinguishing flying embers when they come in contact with the house.
  • Exterior fire sprinkler systems can be turned on with a mobile device or with sensors.

Cons:

  • Because exterior fire sprinklers may run for hours, a reliable water supply is necessary even when the power may be cut to the house.
  • High wind during a wildfire may limit the effectiveness of the sprinklers.
  • Sensors may not detect when small embers are blown from miles away and land on a home’s roof.
  • Exterior fire sprinklers may not be effective at protecting the home when a structure nearby is burning and emitting radiant heat.

An exterior fire sprinkler system can be a value-added part of an overall fire protection strategy, but it shouldn’t be used to substitute for other important features, like a Class A fire-rated roof and regular roof maintenance.

For more information about exterior fire sprinklers, download the July 2018 Exterior Sprinkler Systems fact sheet from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

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