Homebuilder Success Stories

A 24-home Windsor, Ontario, subdivision also owes its existence to fire sprinklers. Without the installation of sprinklers, building permits would have been denied because the area was not readily accessible to the local fire department, he said.

More than 70 upscale homes on Boblo Island, which lies on the Detroit River between Ontario and Michigan, would still be nothing more than blueprints unless home fire sprinklers were part of the design, according to Dennis Cressman of Home-Safe Fire Protection of Windsor, Ontario.

As many as 400 homes in the $1 million to $2 million price range could eventually be built on the island, Cressman said. “None of these houses could have been built without home fire sprinklers because the island is not easily accessible for firefighters,” he said.

“These are the things that are going to make fire sprinkler installations work for these builders, if they can increase their profits, their bottom line,” says Cressman. “We put sprinklers in six houses in Ajax, Ontario,” he recalled. Putting in those sprinklers meant six extra houses built and sold. “You can imagine the profit,” he said.

Some builders are impressed by the safety factor as well, said Dennis Cressman of Home-Safe Fire Protection of Windsor, Ontario. One of Home-Safe’s earliest customers was a builder who decided on his own to install sprinklers in 168 homes “because he wanted to protect his customers.”

Protection can be a selling point, according to Brian Drake of Victaulic, a Canadian manufacturer. “It protects what they build,” he said. “It’s a unique life-safety feature not unlike upgrading with a security system.” Trade-ups increase fire safety, control municipal operating expenses and lower construction costs.

According to Gary Keith, former HFSC Chair, the idea of fire sprinkler trade-ups is simple. “Each fire sprinkler is activated by heat. In fact, 90 percent of all home fires are contained by one sprinkler. Often, fire sprinklers extinguish the fire before the fire department arrives on the scene. As a result, there is less likelihood of a major fire requiring heavy firefighting equipment, which can affect the rules for street design,” he said.

“When homes in a residential development are sprinklered, street width can be reduced, dead-end streets may be increased, tee turnarounds can be permitted and steeper street grades and building locations further from paved fire vehicle access may be permitted,” Keith said.

“Fire sprinkler protection in all new construction is a win-win decision,” Keith said. “The community has additional fire protection without higher taxes or increased insurance rates. The developer can reduce land development costs. The builder can reduce construction costs. Most important, communities with fully sprinklered developments should see a decrease in fire death rates and property loss.”

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