From a one-bedroom apartment to a large-scale dream home to a commercial building or office space, fire sprinkler systems play an important role in health and safety.
Fire safety is essential in any home, no matter the size. Designed and installed with the intent to quickly get occupants out of a home to safety, residential fire sprinkler systems in the U.S. have an excellent track record of not only keeping people safe, but oftentimes helping to preserve the structure, too, in some instances.
From a one-bedroom apartment to a large-scale dream home to a commercial building or office space, fire sprinkler systems play an important role in health and safety. Viega knows the importance of fire protection, which is why we partnered with Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Company and began manufacturing Viega PureFlow PEX fire protection systems in 2010. A good system was certainly a necessity in the custom-built home for the head coach of the Clemson University national champions football team. And Viega was on board to help.
Protecting a big investment
The home, almost 21,000 square feet, includes features like an indoor basketball court, a tiger-shaped pool (the Clemson mascot), an elevator and large garages. While all that might be above and beyond what most people have in their homes, fire sprinkler systems can be a great asset for any size of residence.
“There are probably close to 200 sprinkler heads in the house,” said Alan Larson, manager of technical services for Reliable Automatic Sprinkler. “Really, in any single-family home, fire sprinklers are important from a life safety aspect. It’s life safety for the occupants of the house, but also there are aspects of firefighter safety as well.”
Larson said fire protection systems are important in all homes, but in a larger dwelling like this residence they can sometimes play an even bigger role because the distance to get out of the house or the number of stairs to go down could potentially be much larger than in a 2,000-square-foot home.
Thanks to the partnership with Reliable, Viega came in on the project, working with the contractor, Century, and Elite Plumbing to install thousands of feet of PureFlow PEX throughout the home. The Viega 13D residential fire protection system was installed with Reliable concealed pendents and concealed horizontal sidewall sprinklers. Viega’s design team helped create the plans for the project, which includes the red and blue PEX for plumbing and black for the fire sprinkler.
“Reliable really helped Viega get its foot in the door on this project,” said Viega District Manager Chris Mobley. “We’d hoped to meet with the plumber for a while and Ferguson helped get us a meeting. The plumber had already inked a deal with a competitor to provide the tubing, but when we met with him, he moved entirely to our system.”
Mobley said the group at Elite Plumbing noted that they were impressed that Viega makes its own resin and combines the flexibility often seen in PEX-a tubing with the superior durability ratings often seen in PEX-b tubing, prompting the company to make the switch to Viega.
That opened the door for more changes. Elite Plumbing had initial plans to use Viega crimp fittings to join the system components, but after a PureFlow Press demo, the installation efficiencies, consistency of connection, and the ability to pressure test immediately was appealing, so they chose to install a full PureFlow Press system.
One key advantage of installing a residential fire sprinkler system with PEX is the tubing flexibility and installation speed. All the workers on site, said Larson, “grasped the concept quickly of trying to minimize fittings. That’s the beauty of using PEX to begin with: it’s flexible, so you don’t have to fit in as many elbows and connections, and it speeds installation.”
Being a custom home, there were many changes to the project as it progressed, and some of those changes affected the fire sprinkler system. For example, the ceilings were altered from the initial plans, changing in some places from a flat to a vaulted ceiling. Those changes meant some redesign needed to be done on the fly, but thanks to the literal flexibility of PEX, and the support of the Viega Design Services team, modifications were simpler.
Viega fire protection and safety
Viega fire sprinkler systems are versatile and easy to install. Installers can mount the sprinklers before running the PEX tubing, which saves time and labor costs compared to CPVC.
Viega also offers an innovative and versatile installation mounting bracket that can be used with all pendent styles and in every sprinkler configuration The ability to line up the bracket with the bottom of the ceiling joist eliminates the need for detailed measurement and guesswork of proper alignment. This allows users to mount the pendents according to the design layout and then run the tubing. All of these innovative features create a system that saves labor and leads the way for a consistent installation.
Fire protection systems don’t do exactly what most people think, Larson said. Residential systems are designed and installed to give occupants of a home time to escape a fire. The systems are not truly designed to extinguish a fire – however, statistics show that more than 90% of the time, fire sprinklers do help put out the flames.
“They activate so quickly that they catch the fire while it’s still small, and they just have a fantastic track record in terms of how well they operate and control fires,” Larson said.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fire sprinklers can control and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take for the fire department to arrive on the scene. Automatic fire sprinkler systems cut the risk of dying in a home fire by nearly 80 percent. And in a home with sprinklers, the average property loss per fire is cut by about 70 percent as compared to residential fires where sprinklers are not present.
“Installation of a residential sprinkler system eliminates concerns for firefighters who might have to go in and extract someone who is injured,” Larson noted. “We build houses today much differently than we did 20 years ago, or certainly 50 years ago. There are a lot of lighter-weight materials – more plastics and foams and things – so lightweight construction can be bad if you’ve got a roof coming down or a floor falling out from under firefighters. Sprinklers help lessen that worry.”
Tom Multer, the vice president of product technology for Reliable, said that Reliable is a strong supporter of organizations like The National Fire Protection Association, The American Fire Protection Association, The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and more. Fire safety is of the utmost importance to the company.
“We believe that all homes should be protected with fire sprinkler systems,” he said. “What would be a better way to bring national attention to home fire sprinklers than ensuring that the coach of the National Championship team lives in a home that is protected from the perils of fire by a residential fire sprinkler system?”