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Benefit-Cost Analysis of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems



David T. Butry, M H. Brown, S Fuller


This report documents a benefit-cost analysis performed to measure the expected present value of net benefits resulting from the installation of a multipurpose network fire sprinkler system in a newly-constructed, single-family house. The benefits and costs associated with the installation and use of a fire sprinkler system are compared across three prototypical single-family housing types: colonial, townhouse, and ranch. The installation costs differ by housing types with the colonial being the most expensive and the ranch the least. The benefits experienced by residents of single-family dwellings with sprinkler systems, as measured in this report, include reductions in the following: the risk of civilian fatalities and injuries, homeowner insurance premiums, uninsured direct property losses, and uninsured indirect costs. The primary costs examined are for initial purchase and installation of the sprinkler system. Maintenance and repair costs are not examined because they are negligible. Results of the benefit-cost analysis show that multipurpose network sprinkler systems are economical. The expected present value of net benefits (PVNB) in 2005 dollars is estimated as $2919 for the colonial-style house, $3099 for the townhouse, and $4166 for the ranch-style house. A sensitivity analysis is performed to measure the variability of the results to changes in the modeling assumptions. The sensitivity analysis confirms the robustness of the baseline analysis. The PVNB range from $704 to $4801 for the colonial-style house, from $884 to $4981 for the townhouse, and from $1950 to $6048 for the ranch-style house. Multipurpose network systems are the lowest life-cycle cost systems because homeowners can perform their own regular inspections and maintenance, and thereby save on costs they would incur with other systems. Given that they provide a similar level of performance, multipurpose network systems then achieve greater cost-effectiveness over alternate systems.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) -


building economics, benefit-cost analysis, cost-effective decision, economic analysis, fire sprinkler, life-cycle cost


Butry, D. , Brown, M. and Fuller, S. (2007), Benefit-Cost Analysis of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed March 1, 2024)
Created September 2, 2007, Updated February 19, 2017