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Review of Residential Sprinkler Systems: Research and Standards



Daniel M. Madrzykowski, R P. Fleming


Automatic sprinkler systems have been successfully used to protect industrial and commercial buildings and their occupants for more than 100 years. Historically, the place which has offered the least amount of fire protection to occupants, was and still is their own home.This paper presents overview of the development of the residential sprinkler system standard, The Standard on the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes, NFPA 13D. Significant testing and development of residential sprinkler systems has continued resulting in the evolution of NFPA 13D and the development of the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height, NFPA 13R. This paper addresses the life-safety objectives of residential sprinkler systems, the differences between a residential system and those for a residential occupancy that is required to be designed in accordance with the Standard for the Installation of sprinkler Systems, NFPA 13.New developments in residential sprinkler system technology continue to be made in an effort to increase the ease of installation and reduce the cost of installation while maintaining the effectiveness and reliability of the system. In several comununities, residential sprinkler systems have been required in dwellings for more than a decade. Information from these communities are providing compelling data for installing residential sprinklers. These experiences, in addition to code requirements and other incentives, are increasing the numbers of sprinkler installations around the country.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) -


automatic fire sprinklers, life safety, NFPA 13D, NFPA 13R, residential sprinklers, sprinkler systems, test methods


Madrzykowski, D. and Fleming, R. (2002), Review of Residential Sprinkler Systems: Research and Standards, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 19, 2024)
Created December 1, 2002, Updated February 17, 2017