Archive for the ‘Residential Fire Protection’ Category

Fire Sprinkler Webinar to Discuss Hydraulic Calculations for Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems

November 30th, 2010

Webinar presentation will educate designers, installers and plan reviewers on the most popular hydraulic calculation methods used for sizing residential fire sprinkler systems.

A new webinar has been prepared by Fire Smarts, LLC to educate fire protection designers, installers and plan reviewers across the nation on hydraulic principals and how to perform hydraulic calculations for residential fire sprinkler systems. The webinar is part of the online training series offered by Fire Smarts, LLC.

The “Hydraulic Calculations for Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems” webinar will be presented by fire protection industry expert, Steven Scandaliato, SET, CFPS, on December 14, 2010 at 12:00pm Eastern. During this two-hour training Mr. Scandaliato will review the basic principles of hydraulics, the most popular hydraulic calculation methods and the use of each method when sizing a residential system. Significant time will be spent on using the simplified calculation methods allowed by NFPA 13D and the International Residential Code (IRC).

Registration is open to all interested parties. For more information and to register for this click on Webinar Information Page.

“With the addition of residential fire sprinkler requirements into the International Residential Code, there is no question that these systems will become a standard component in new home construction across the country,” said Ryan J. Smith, President of Fire Smarts, LLC. “There is a need for designers, installers and plan reviews to better understand how these systems are designed to ensure cost-effective and high-quality installations.”

The “Residential Fire Sprinklers Market Growth and Labor Demand Analysis” published by Fire Smarts, LLC in September 2008, projects that over 7000 additional positions for sprinkler installation, over 2000 additional positions for sprinkler design, and nearly 1500 plan reviews and inspectors will be needed as residential fire sprinkler requirements are adopted and widely enforced across the country over the next decade. An adequate amount of skilled labor is essential to ensuring that residential sprinkler systems can be properly and cost-effectively installed.

“I’ve worked in the home building and fire protection industries all my life,” said Steven Scandaliato, SET, CFPS. “Fire sprinklers are quickly becoming a standard component of new home construction and I am committed to providing education and training to make sure these systems are cost-effective and work correctly in the event of a fire.”

Webinar instructor, Steven Scandaliato, is a Fire Smarts Faculty member and Principal at SDG, LLC, a fire protection design and consulting company. With over 30 years of fire protection engineering, design and project management experience he holds a Level IV certification from NICET in Fire Sprinkler Layout, a Certified Fire Protection Specialist designation, and serves as a member of the NFPA 13, 101 and 5000 committees.

For more information and to register for this webinar click on Webinar Information Page. This webinar is another fire protection training opportunity through Fire Smarts online training programs.

About Fire Smarts, LLC: Fire Smarts, LLC is a leading provider of fire protection educational and training resources. The company operates the home fire protection resource website, Residential Fire Sprinklers .com, frequently publishes articles and reports on the latest industry developments and utilizes its team of Fire Smarts Faculty members to create custom training solutions for contractors, fire and building officials, and business organizations based on NFPA standards.

Fire Smarts Faculty Steven Scandaliato Speaks at 2010 ASSE Technical Seminar

November 29th, 2010

On November 12, 2010, at the ASSE Technical Seminar in Las Vegas, Fire Smarts Faculty, Steven Scandaliato, SET, CFPS delivered the “Residential Fire Sprinklers: Are You Ready?” seminar. The seminar discussed the impact of the IRC residential fire sprinkler requirements on the market and how plumbing engineers and contractors can prepare to provide residential sprinkler services.

Mr. Scandaliato’s extensive fire sprinkler background combined with his roots in the home building industry give him a unique perspective on the growing residential sprinkler market. His presentation was packed with real-world examples and practical advice on how to effectively communicate and work with home builders. While home builders may not be quick to embrace the residential fire sprinkler requirements, they certainly understand the need to determine the most cost-effective methods for installing these systems when they are required.

Based on participant feedback throughout the Edward J. Zimmer Technical Seminar, Mr. Scandaliato was awarded the Wylie W. Mitchell Award for the most outstanding presentation of the seminar.

“It’s an honor to receive this award,” said Steven Scandaliato, SET, CFPS. “I’m thrilled that my presentation was well received at the ASSE Technical Seminar. I’m passionate about teaching good fire protection…especially with residential sprinklers where people’s lives are literally saved.”

Also discussed during the ASSE Technical Seminar was the ASSE 7000 certification. This ANSI accredited certification is for installers and inspectors of residential fire sprinkler systems. Fire Smarts is developing and delivering the 40+ hour training program for this certification.

The ASSE Certification provides assurance to the industry that qualified individuals are installing and inspecting residential sprinkler systems. The ASSE Certification also assures that individuals have taken a qualified course and have passed both a written and a practical exam. The program provides for continued education and periodic recertification.

For more details view the “ASSE 7000 Certification Brochure

Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems – Now What?

October 17th, 2009

As featured in Plumbing Systems & Design Magazine, September 2009

It would be hard to believe that anyone who takes the time and makes the effort to stay abreast of events affecting their industry would not be aware of the monumental changes regarding the next edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) and fire sprinkler systems. However, just in case you accidentally picked up this magazine thinking it was Sports I Illustrated or you are in the waiting room of your doctor’s office and must choose between this magazine and Psychology Today, let me fill you in because you are already behind.

In September 2008, the IRC committee voted to include a new provision that requires single-family homes to be sprinklered. This, of course, has been the topic of articles, seminars, reports, and state legislation ever since, and through it all one thing is for sure: The installation of fire sprinkler systems in residential occupancies is here to stay. Challenges and amendments may have some impact initially, but I have learned one main thing during many years of being involved in the code-making process. Once something makes it into the book, it is very difficult to get it out, and with each edition that it remains, it becomes like curing concrete: The longer it sets, the stronger and more unmovable it will be.

Now that this requirement is here, the question must be asked: “What are you going to do about it?”

You have a few options. The first is to ignore it and go on with business as usual—that is, if you still have a business. Let’s face it: With the economy shrinking like it has, the level of competition for the few available projects is very high, and many of us have experienced downsizing in one way or another. In fact, most of us are working to stay in business, much less thinking about growing one.

The second option is to recognize that while the construction market is smaller, an entirely new vertical has been opened. It is this option that presents a “glass half full” opportunity.

It has been reported that this new residential sprinkler market could conservatively create revenues more than $3 billion annually (see “Residential Fire Sprinkler Market Analysis“. That’s billion, with a B. It also is well documented that the fire protection industry will be strained to meet this demand as this new requirement grows by adoption.

The design and installation of residential fire sprinkler systems is not new to the fire protection industry, but it is new to the plumbing industry, which includes engineers as well as contractors. Who better to relieve that strain than those already familiar with residential construction and most of the materials associated with these types of systems but the plumbing industry? While residential fire sprinkler systems are not as complicated as commercial systems, there are major differences in the design approach as well as some of the equipment used. If this second option has sparked your interest and you have the energy to pursue something that may take time and some investment to master, I would encourage you to read on.

The rewards are plenty, but it will not be easy.

In brief, the history of residential fire sprinkler systems starts around 1930, but it did not really become formal until the 1950s and early 1960s. This was due predominately to the development of a new installation standard and, soon after that, the emergence of several new types of sprinkler technologies responding to the growing concern over residential fire loss. Manufacturers and contractors alike began to envision the immense benefits that these systems would provide toward alleviating the ongoing tragedy of human loss due to residential fires. Money and market share took it from there.

One of the first milestones identified during these early events was the development of an installation standard, similar to the commercial standard for installation, called NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. Along the course of the standard development, creators recognized that the two major occupancy groups already established in the building codes would have to be addressed. These two groups are single-family and multifamily.

As such, we ended up with two installation standards. They were conveniently named NFPA 13D: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes and NFPA 13R: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies Up to and Including Four Stories in Height. Once these standards became available, the adoption process began, which lead to the historic September 2008 vote.

Having these two standards in hand, you easily could conclude just by looking at them that together their thickness is not more than the single Chapter 8 of NFPA 13. Do not let that fool you. There are significant differences in the approach of residential design compared to commercial. Equally significant is the difference between NFPA 13D and NFPA 13R. It is these differences that need the most press and should be the starting point for anyone who is interested in learning more about residential fire sprinkler system design and installation.

Let’s start by focusing on NFPA 13D.


First and arguably the most important aspect of residential fire sprinkler systems, aside from water supply, is sprinkler head layout. Hundreds of different types of residential sprinklers are available today (see Figure 1), each with their own specific characteristics, including orientation, temperature rating, spray pattern, and minimum water and pressure demands. In fact, one of the most time-consuming tasks of residential design is finding the right head for the right application.

You easily can end up with four, five, or even more different types of heads in one home. Hence, you easily could spend as much as 50 percent of your design time just getting the sprinkler heads laid out.

That said, a closer look at what this process involves would be helpful.

One concept to understand in residential sprinkler head layout is the philosophy or goal behind the rules in the standard. What are we trying to accomplish? Commercial systems have a spectrum type of philosophy, if you will, spanning from life safety to property protection as its goal. Depending on the occupancy type, the goal may weigh more toward life safety than property protection or vice versa.

That’s not so in residential design. The goal for residential design is one thing and one thing only: life safety! The standards are written around the goal of giving people enough time to get out. While residential sprinkler system statistics conclusively prove that sprinklers provide a high level of property protection, the truth is that we do not care about the dwelling.

The rules and standards in NFPA 13D and NFPA 13R are based on the concept of sprinkler heads activating early in the fire growth, providing wall wetting and air cooling for 10 minutes (the required water supply duration) such that the rooms are tenable enough for evacuation. If this is the goal, it is obvious why the sprinkler head type, spacing, and location are so critical. This cannot be emphasized enough. You may find a sprinkler head that fits your needs on the very first cut sheet you open, but 28 years of experience tells me that this rarely happens. When it does, I am very skeptical about running off with my first choice without researching others just to make sure.

Another concept of residential sprinkler layout involves understanding the part that orientation and application play. As I stated earlier, there are hundreds of heads to choose from, so selecting the right one for the job means you first need to evaluate the space you are protecting. You will need to answer questions such as:

• Is the ceiling flat or sloped and if so, at what pitch?

• Are there any soffits, pockets, or other ceiling configurations that would inhibit the goal of early activation with high spray patterns?

Answering these questions will narrow your selection of sprinkler heads very quickly.

The process of laying out sprinkler heads involves a mix of rules from the standard, either NFPA 13D or NFPA 13R, and those found in the manufacturer’s data. Most of the time the manufacturer’s data supersedes the minimum requirements in the applicable standard, which is acceptable in that every NFPA standard includes in it an equivalency clause such as this: “Nothing in this standard is intended to prevent the use of systems, methods, or devices of equivalent or superior quality, strength, fire resistance, effectiveness, durability, and safety over those prescribed by this standard. Technical documentation shall be submitted to the authority having jurisdiction to demonstrate equivalency. The system, method, or device shall be approved for the intended purpose by the authority having jurisdiction.”

The challenge then becomes to accurately locate the sprinkler heads in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements as well as any applicable minimums found in the standard. The effort required for this process is dictated by the complexity of the space.

As mentioned before, several factors determine the final location for a sprinkler head, and the designer must be familiar with these.


For example, let’s evaluate a simple layout in a single-family, single-story home using NFPA 13D. Figures 2 and 3 represent identical floor plans with two different head layouts. Both are in accordance with manufacturer’s data and NFPA 13D.


Notice the difference in head types as well as the head count.

System economics is driven predominately by head count. However, do not take this to mean that less heads always means less expensive.

Depending on the type of construction, the labor to pipe Figure 2 easily may offset the cost associated with the difference in head count shown in Figure 3. Keep in mind that these two layouts are based on flat ceilings, no ceiling fans or light fixtures, no soffits or coffered ceilings, control over the locations of heat vents, and geographically located in the southern half of the United States where freezing conditions are not an issue. Certainly it appears easy just looking at the finished layout, but all it takes is one or more of those previously mentioned conditions to exist for the layout to change drastically.

Also included in this head layout process are the rules involving the rooms or spaces requiring and, more importantly, not requiring sprinkler head coverage. Dealing with exceptions in codes and standards is always a challenge because the shades of gray show up.

This is usually not as prevalent in single-family, NFPA 13D systems as it is in NFPA 13R and NFPA 13 systems; however, where there is an architect, there is always more than just black and white. Along with the exceptions to coverage are those construction or architectural features that neither the standard nor the manufacturer addresses, and contrary to popular thinking, this is not more common in custom homes than tract housing. These types of situations make head layout very challenging and require assistance from those more familiar with the industry and developed resources such as fire protection engineers and manufacturer technical service departments.

It can be mastered by anyone who has desire to learn. The better your understanding and working knowledge of residential construction techniques and materials, the more proficient you will be. I would encourage anyone interested in pursuing this industry to first purchase a copy of NFPA 13D and NFPA 13R. Second, find online resources including blogs and sprinkler industry articles, webinars, and books that will help you grow in your understanding and knowledge of residential sprinkler design and installation. Third, and probably the most important, is to join the sprinkler industry associations.


I have very little patience with and am skeptical of anyone, no matter how long you have been designing or installing toilets and sinks, who is going to get into this industry and not take it seriously.

This goes for engineers and contractors alike. Fire sprinklers are not something with which you dabble. I am very critical when it comes to engineers practicing outside of their discipline and contractors who think that pipe and water is all that there is to it!

If you have decided to participate in this growing industry and work for a piece of this huge pie, then welcome, but do it right! Getting involved in an association is one way of ensuring your success in this new venture. These associations are stocked full of resources and technical staffs who are looking for ways to help you do just that.

In my next article I will compare the two residential standards, NFPA 13D and NFPA 13R, and highlight the major differences between them.

Steven Scandaliato is a Fire Smarts Faculty member and Principal at SDG, LLC, a fire protection design and consulting company. With over 23 years of fire protection engineering, design and project management experience he holds a Level IV certification from NICET in Fire Sprinkler Layout and serves as a member of the NFPA 13, 101 and 5000 committees.

Residential Fire Sprinklers: Plumbing Contractor Competitive Advantage #2

October 5th, 2009

Part four of a five part series focusing on the rapidly growing residential fire sprinkler market and why plumbing contractors are best positioned to capture this opportunity.

To view part three of the series visit “Residential Fire Sprinklers: Plumbing Contractor Competitive Advantage #1

When the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) arrives, with it will be the highly publicized requirement for all single family homes to have fire sprinkler systems installed in them. Previously we discussed the market and individual growth potential for residential plumbing contractors this new code will create. If we have convinced you, a residential plumbing contractor, that in fact, this opportunity is viable; the question now is, what next? Certainly questions of capital, resources, training and tools all fill the list. But, if you are like me, you are asking, “How do I sell this?” How do I convince my existing homebuilding client that, not only am I capable of providing both services, but it will be less expensive than two separate contractors doing the work?

To start with, let’s admit that most everyone would agree that it should cost less to get everything you need from one source, rather than to get only one thing you need from one source at a time. A quick glance at the popularity and success of big retail such as Wal-Mart or Best Buy will validate that. And while it may seem obvious that bundling services is cheaper than buying them separately, it is harder to distinguish this when the amounts that are being compared are relatively low. For instance, you normally don’t drive to a specialty battery store to buy AA batteries that cost $6.50 when you can get the same brand at the grocery store for approximately the same price or usually within a $1 while you are buying your groceries. The batteries at the battery store may even be less expensive (not likely, but possible) however, when the retail price of batteries is not that much to begin with, who is going to drive all over town to save a dollar. And while costs are always a strong part of decision making, the residual savings that you get by not spending the time to make the extra trip to the battery store will most likely outweigh the cost difference between the two stores supplying the batteries. Not to mention the convenience and stress reduction of having one more item off your “to do” list.

Now equate this example with those contractors vying for the installation of a residential fire sprinkler system. You have the fire protection contractor acting as the specialty store and the plumbing contractor acting as the “all in one” store. If an average tract home is 2500 square feet and the higher end of installed costs for a fire sprinkler system are $1.50 square foot, the installed cost would be $3,750. If the average sales price for this size tract house falls into the mid $200 thousands the fire sprinkler system would represent approximately 2% of the cost. The question is “can a plumbing contractor provide this system for less than a fire protection contractor?” While geographic factors such as unions will skew the numbers somewhat, it would be safe to answer this question with a resounding “yes”. The first and most obvious reason is the combination or overlapping of insurance, tools and resources. It would be very difficult to compete with a workforce that is trained to install toilets and sinks as well as risers and fire sprinklers, especially when many of the tools and materials used are the same. A second factor that would make this option even more definite would be if the fire sprinkler system is a multipurpose or combined type system. Meaning a system of valves and piping that feeds both domestic and fire sprinkler demand all together. The reduction in coordination issues alone would make this a very attractive choice for any home builder.

The third and not so obvious reason would reflect the nature of tract housing itself. Tract housing is all about volume and typical construction. I have termed it RPTV which stands for “Residual Profit on Typical Volume”. This represents profit that is not readily measurable, but is made as the result of “production line” thinking. It could be characterized as savings made from repetitive activities that require very little effort on your part or that of your clients. It can apply to the services you currently provide for your tract home builder, but can also apply to his services as well. The typical nature of this type of construction produces less and less supervision with each home built. I can attest to this first hand. While growing up in the homebuilding industry I experienced the transformation of our family business from tract housing to full custom homes. Without diverting into a dissertation on the differences, suffice it to say, it can be summed up in one word… Volume.

Let’s say the average cost of the plumbing contract for our 2,500 square foot tract home is $15,000 and the fire sprinkler system is $3,750. The total cost for each service without profit is $18,750. If both the plumbing contractor and the fire sprinkler contractor apply a 10% markup, the total price to the client is $20,625. Now, if you are a plumbing contractor providing both services it would be reasonable to expect your price to be at least 2% lower than this as your fixed expenses are now spread over a larger amount of revenue. This would put your sell price at approximately $20,210 which is a savings of roughly $415 to the client per house. Now, consider that your 10% profit per house should actually increase as your crews become more and more proficient with the installation of both systems, along with savings on bulk materials. When you multiply that profit over a couple of hundred homes a year the decision to expand your services to include fire sprinkler systems becomes much easier.

Do not forget, just like everyone else in the construction industry, home builders are looking for ways to do more or get more with the same amount. And if they do agree to pay more money it has to be towards something that they know will help them stand out from their competition. Tract home pricing is very competitive with margins averaging 8% to 10% at best. So other marketing tools are used. Usually these types of things come in the form of “buyer options”. This is where the buyer of the home may want to add certain options to the basic home he is buying such as a refrigerator, washer/dryer or upgraded carpet. The big difference is that these options are not “required” by codes or standards. The fire sprinkler system, on the other hand, is required by code and therefore is a hard cost that the home builder must account for. While he is looking for “bang for the buck” he is equally looking for companies that are going to make his life easier. Meaning, fewer coordination issues, no more sub-contractors than what he is already working with and someone who is managing their work without his supervision. By using an “all in one” plumbing contractor for both services he eliminates one more company he has to go into contract with, he needs only one phone number to deal with issues for either system, and there are fewer invoices to process, which keeps his overhead from increasing.

Trust me when I tell you, home builders put a high price on their time and how it is spent. They don’t want to deal with coordination problems or issues regarding permits or scheduling conflicts. They just want it done, on time, on budget and with attention to the same quality expected in custom home building. Home builders today are looking for every advantage they can find to either lower costs or provide more value for the same price. If domestic plumbing and fire sprinkler services are packaged up by a single source contractor, they will take a long hard look at the single source price. With a competitive price and the reduction of administrative expenses, there is real value to the home builder in getting there plumbing and fire sprinkler systems from the same “store”. Show the home builder how this works for them with the pricing in your own neighborhood and I am confident you will be successful as a single source provider.

In Part 5 of this series, “Residential Fire Sprinklers: Plumbing Contractor Competitive Advantage #3”, Jayson Drake, will discuss why multipurpose systems are the future of residential fire sprinklers, why plumbing contractors are uniquely qualified to install these systems and how this creates a clear competitive advantage.

Steven Scandaliato is a Fire Smarts Faculty member and Principal at SDG, LLC, a fire protection design and consulting company. With over 23 years of fire protection engineering, design and project management experience he holds a Level IV certification from NICET in Fire Sprinkler Layout and serves as a member of the NFPA 13, 101 and 5000 committees.

Residential Fire Sprinklers: Plumbing Contractor Competitive Advantage #1

August 24th, 2009

Part three of a five part series focusing on the rapidly growing residential fire sprinkler market and why plumbing contractors are best positioned to capture this opportunity.

To view part two of the series visit “Plumbing Contractors Needed for Residential Fire Sprinkler Work

Growing up in the home building business provides a very unique opportunity to learn about micro and macro economics without ever having to pay a single tuition bill. In fact, when taking these courses in college, I found myself arguing with the establishment most of the time, because not one of my instructors had ever experienced grossing $1 million one year and then struggling to stay in business with it for the next five. Mowing lawns to buy basketball shoes and cancelling family vacations, because interest rates changed as fast as the weather does. None of them had experienced living in a thriving community with great growth potential for several years to come and then see it completely stopped by a select group of community activists using a gas moratorium as a way to stop future growth. Now, several years later, ironically, a similar event has taken place, which is going to have one of the most significant impacts on the home building industry since 1.5 gallon toilets were mandated. Of course, I am speaking of the new IRC requirement for all new single and two family dwellings to have fire sprinkler systems installed.

The impact is estimated to be as high as $3 billion a year in potential revenue. Of course, there are those that are for this and those who are not. Nevertheless, it is here and the potential market that is now open to those who install fire sprinklers is also open to the plumbing industry as well. I say this because, contrary to many of the reports and articles written about this subject, the fire sprinkler industry is not large enough to absorb this type of demand. And, even with the pressure our capitalistic economy is currently feeling, demand for designers and installers of these systems is going to be very deliberate. So the question is, do you want to be a part of this market?

Before you answer, allow me to impart some observations that only someone in my position can share. First, I doubt anyone would argue with me about the significant differences there are between commercial and residential construction. Certainly this discussion alone would warrant several pages. However, when narrowed to the introduction of fire sprinklers to the home building process there are specific issues to consider. First, consider the fact that the plumbing industry can be characterized into three major groups. There are the large major mechanical contractors consisting usually of both HVAC and plumbing capabilities. These companies are found predominately on commercial types of projects, which require more than 2-3 man crews with construction schedules that can stretch out for months and many times years. Then there are those companies that concentrate on the residential markets. These would include multifamily as well as single family projects. These companies are usually much smaller than those involved in the commercial markets and tend to have smaller crews. The final group is those companies that have chosen to focus on the service side of the plumbing market. They are typically small to medium sized companies, less than 25 employees, and are structured to accommodate the general public’s plumbing service needs. They are not involved with new construction much, if any at all.

Of these three groups, it is the residential companies that are most prevalent and have the most opportunity to gain from the emerging residential fire sprinkler market. There are several simple reasons for this. First and foremost, they have the most to gain with the least amount of investment required. Let me explain. In residential construction, there are usually only five or six sub-contractors involved. They include the foundation, framing, mechanical, electrical, finish and painting contractors. Of course this will vary for several reasons, but for the purpose of this discussion these would be considered the core group for a home builder to contract with on a regular basis. Since the residential plumbing market is already very competitive the potential profit margins are very tight, especially when you consider the fact that average tract housing plumbing contracts only total $8 to $10k to begin with. So most residential contractors are looking for volume as well as the occasional custom home that comes along. Any chance one has to increase the base cost of their services means that while the actual margins may not increase, the amount of that margin allows opportunities for more rapid growth or internal capital improvements such as tools, trucks or even employee benefits.

Second, as long as I can remember, and my father before me and his father before him, every house that our family built had running water in it. What I mean by this is that plumbers have been on site for decades. Not so for fire sprinklers contractors. Plumbing contractors already have relationships built with current clients. They are familiar with home building trends, contracts and market conditions. The overwhelming majority of all fire sprinkler contractors in this country are commercial contractors. They do not have the years of experience with residential markets. Over the years, some have diversified into the residential markets but one thing is for sure, very few are capable, or for that matter, even want to participate in both markets. The reasons for this are the same reasons there are three groups of plumbing contractors. The bottom line costs are not as high as commercial construction and they have found that trying to accommodate both markets usually involves higher overhead which makes it harder to compete.

The third reason is the nature of the trade itself. It is pipe and water. Who better to adapt to this market than skilled labor that already knows how to work with the majority of the components involved with fire sprinkler systems. I have read several articles and reports from those on both sides of the residential fire sprinkler argument. And in response I say this: As a guy who started on his dad’s framing crew at age 14, going on to become the Vice President of the company and getting my Class A contractor’s license at age 21, only to end up as NICET IV fire sprinkler designer as well as a member of the NFPA committees that put the codes and standards for fire sprinklers into place, this is NOT hard. It will not take years of training and expense to merge the design and installation of fire sprinkler systems into an already successful residential plumbing contracting company.

While residential fire sprinkler systems have been required in select markets and geographic locations since the mid 1980’s, it has really only made its presence known in multi-family projects and even then it is fairly marginal. Today’s residential plumbing contractors have a very clear and distinct advantage coming into the residential fire sprinkler market. It would be prudent for them to consider this advantage as well as the education and training tools that are being made available by Fire Smarts and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC). 2011 when the IRC requirement comes into effect is not far off. And given the current economic conditions in the residential market, demand can only grow. Like my father always said, “people will always need a place to live”. For me, these are words to build a company by.

In Part 4 of this series, “Residential Fire Sprinklers: Plumbing Contractor Competitive Advantage #2”, Steven Scandaliato, SET, will discuss how plumbing contractors that provide both domestic water and fire sprinkler services have a competitive advantage by reducing the general contractor’s administrative burden, while increasing their own profit margin.

Steven Scandaliato is a Fire Smarts Faculty member and Vice President of Business Development of Telgian Corporation. With over 23 years of fire protection engineering, design and project management experience he holds a Level IV certification from NICET in Fire Sprinkler Layout and serves as a member of the NFPA 13, 101 and 5000 committees.