Residential fires are a serious threat, so every home needs some fire protection. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are more than 1 million residential fires each year, with more than 50% of these fires caused by everyday activities like cooking and heating. Fire and smoke can cause severe damage to your home and belongings. They can also cause serious harm or death to occupants. No one is safe in a home fire, but fire protection systems go a long way toward ensuring that everyone makes it outside safely.
There are many ways to add smoke and fire protection to your home, from smoke alarms to sprinkler systems, and all these have cost ranges. The national average range to install fire protection systems is around $400 to $2,500. The average homeowner spends around $600 on 8 hardwire smoke detectors, 3 CO detectors, a fire extinguisher, and fire retardant blankets for three bedrooms. The project’s low cost is around $300 for installing 8 basic hardwired smoke detectors. The high cost of this project is around $3,500 for installing a sprinkler system in a 2,000 sq.ft. home with 8 hardwired smoke detectors with heat sensors and CO detectors for each bedroom.
|Fire Protection Prices|
|National average cost||$600|
Fire protection comes in two forms. The first is detection, which alerts you to a problem so that you can get out safely. The second is suppression, which contains the smoke and flames or suppresses them until professional help arrives. The most effective fire protection systems layer both types, meaning that both detection and suppression should be part of your plan:
|Type of System||Average Costs (Material Only)|
|Fire Alarm Systems||$10 - $50/each|
|Fire Suppression Systems||$20 - $1,000/each|
Fire alarm systems start at $10 to $50 for each component. These systems include smoke detectors, heat sensors, and flame detectors. They can detect the start of a fire, sometimes before it becomes evident to you, and alert you to the problem, usually through sound, but many have flashing lights, and some can be tied to your home security system. Fire alarm systems do not suppress, contain, or combat the flame or smoke. Their only purpose is to alert you to the issue so that you can exit the home safely.
Fire suppression systems have a cost range of $20 to $1,000 for each component. They are used to contain, extinguish, or suppress the flames and smoke until help arrives. They can be automatic systems, such as sprinklers, that deploy when heat and flames are detected, or they can be manual like fire extinguishers and fire blankets to safely extinguish small fires or help you get out safely. Fire suppression systems for homes vary depending on your comfort, budget, and structure type. Some building materials are flame-retardant, such as class X drywall, fiber cement siding, steel siding, and steel roofing. These materials help stop the spread of flames and fire and can be considered part of your home fire suppression system. There is an enormous range of types of fire suppression system components.
Fire alarm systems come in several types. The most common is the smoke detector, which most people have installed. However, other types of systems can detect not only smoke, but heat, flames, and other harmful substances like carbon monoxide gas. Each system has a cost and function.
|Type of Fire Alarm System||Average Costs|
|Smoke Detector||$10 - $80|
|Gas Sensor||$15 - $30|
|Heat Sensor||$20 - $50|
Smoke detectors cost between $10 and $80 each. They are the most important piece of fire protection equipment to have. Every home is required to have them to meet fire codes. These can change over time, and every city or town may have its own codes. At a minimum, you should have one smoke detector inside every bedroom, one outside every bedroom, and one in every hallway. They come in several types with different sensitivities.
Expect to pay $15 to $30 each for gas sensors. They work differently from smoke detectors, and do not necessarily indicate the presence of a fire, but they can indicate the presence of hazardous, odorless gasses that can cause harm. The most common of these is carbon monoxide. These sensors are installed low on your walls because gasses tend to be heavier and sink. They are rarely hardwired in but are screwed to the wall.
Heater sensors cost between $20 and $50 each on average. Some fires burn hot quickly before they produce enough smoke particles for your smoke detector to discover. In this case, a heat sensor can alert you, your alarm company, or the fire department minutes before your smoke alarm goes off. There are several types of heat sensors. Some only detect a rapid temperature rise, while others only to certain set temperatures.
Fire detection systems are important to alert people to smoke or flame to exit the home safely. Fire suppression systems are equally as important. They help you escape more safely or suppress a small fire or keep a larger one from getting out of control before professional help arrives. Fire suppression systems come in several types. Some do not need any installation, and they just need to be kept on hand in case of an emergency. Others, such as sprinkler systems, need professional installation to ensure they work properly.
|Type of Suppression System||Average Costs|
|Fire Sprinkler Systems||$1.30 to $2.00/sq.ft. installed|
|Portable Fire Extinguishers||$15 - $50/each|
|Fire Blanket||$30 - $75/each|
The cost to install a fire sprinkler system in new construction is around $1.30 to $1.50 a square foot. The cost to install a system in an existing home is around $1.75 to $2 a square foot. Sprinkler systems activate when temperatures reach a certain level or when smoke particles are detected. They can reduce the spread of fire, containing it and giving you time to get out. Most sprinkler systems are hooked up to your home’s water supply, but you may require a storage tank of up to 550 gallons if you live in an area with well water or a low water supply. Installing a sprinkler system is easiest during new construction but can be added to existing homes.
Expect to pay between $15 and $50 for each fire extinguisher, depending on the size. Roughly 50% of house fires start in the kitchen when someone is cooking. Other fires may start small near an appliance, such as a furnace or dryer. A fire extinguisher helps you put out or control a small fire when it starts, or it may give you enough time to exit the house safely. Each extinguisher can work differently, but they all spray fire-suppressing material. Fire extinguishers should be kept on each floor of the home, typically near kitchens and heat sources. The recommended fire extinguisher for in-home use is an ABC extinguisher. It puts out grease, electrical, and dry fires, so you can use it in any home fire situation.
A typical flame-retardant or flame-smothering blanket costs between $30 and $75, depending on the size. A fire-retardant blanket is good to keep on hand, particularly near children’s bedrooms. While a flame-smothering blanket cannot put out large house fires, it can smother flames on clothing or in small areas. They can also be used to wrap around yourself or your child when you exit the building, to keep you safe from the flames. They come in different sizes and storage devices.
It is important for every family to have a fire escape plan. This means knowing all the exits from your home and having a safe place where your family can converge after getting out. For anyone with a bedroom on the upper stories of the home, an escape ladder can help.
Fire escape ladders come in two basic types. The first is permanently secured to your wall. The ladder may be fixed or not be unfurled or released unless necessary, but it remains at the window it is installed on. The second type is entirely manual. You keep it nearby and hook it over the window ledge before unfurling it.
A permanent ladder costs $500 to $1,000, plus around $100 to $200 for installation. A manual ladder costs between $40 and $60 on average. Whichever method you choose, make sure that all occupants understand how to use them so that you can get out quickly in a fire.
There are many parts of a home fire protection system that you can install or add yourself. Carbon monoxide detectors and heat sensors are wall-mounted and easily installed. Fire extinguishers and fire blankets can be placed near the areas where they are intended for use. Follow the instructions and recommendations by each manufacturer for best practices.
However, fire alarm and sprinkler systems should always be professionally installed. Fire alarms are installed by electricians ($40 - $100/hour) and must be hardwired into your home’s electrical panel. Sprinkler systems are usually installed by specialists, but some systems can be installed by plumbers ($45 - $200/hour).
|Fire Alarm System||$40 - $100/hour|
|Fire Suppression System||$45 - $200/hour|
Fire alarm systems are installed by electricians. In most cases, an electrician can install all the fire alarms and wire them to the panel in a few hours, depending on how many alarms you need. The average 3-bedroom 2,000 sq.ft. home needs a minimum of 8 smoke detectors. While most electricians charge by the hour, this particular project is generally given a flat-rate cost, making the average labor cost for this project around $200 for most homes.
When installing a fire suppression system, you can hire a specialty company that works solely with sprinkler systems or contract with your plumber. While plumbers charge between $45 and $200 an hour, the average sprinkler system is usually sold and installed by the square foot, with a total installed cost range of $1.30 to $2 a square foot. Hooking up this system to the water supply can have additional costs for your plumber, even if you contract with a dedicated fire suppression company. This is usually an additional $200 to $500, for a total cost in a 2,000 sq.ft. home of between $2,800 and $4,500, depending on the installation type.
While fires may not be entirely preventable, there are many things that you can do to mitigate the risk. The first thing should be to install both a fire alarm system and to have a fire suppression system. Make sure that you inspect these regularly. Replace fire extinguishers when they expire or after use. Change the batteries on your smoke alarms twice yearly, and replace the unit if it malfunctions or does not respond to a test.
Also, check your appliances and follow basic safety measures. Do not overload outlets or circuits. Do not use outlets or appliances that look faulty or are in disrepair. Regularly inspect and maintain these systems.
You can also prevent house fires by practicing safe habits. Do not leave food on the stovetop unattended. Do not leave candles or fireplace fires unattended or in the reach of small children. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly.
If you are unsure of how protected your home is, request a fire inspection from your local fire department. The fire inspector helps identify issues and how to best correct them.
In an age of climate change, wildfires have become much more common. For those who live in areas that are impacted by this hazard, take steps to minimize the damage.
The most effective thing to do is to use flame-retardant building materials whenever possible. ICF blocks in place of wood frames, fiber cement or steel siding, and flame-retardant roofing, such as metal or slate can all protect your home in a wildfire.
Avoid using materials like wood, which is highly combustible, and vinyl siding, which is not only combustible but likely to drive flames higher into the attic where more damage can occur.
A typical chimney cap with installation is around $1,200. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove in your home, do you also have a chimney cap installed that can stop sparks from spreading to your roof? Chimney caps are important parts of fire prevention systems. They help prevent debris and small animals from getting into your chimney, and they stop sparks from flying out and potentially igniting your roof, siding, and nearby trees. This is particularly important if you do not burn your wood at very high temperatures. Lower temperature fires put out more sparks.
Smoke masks and fire evacuation hoods can prevent breathing in toxic fumes. They can be placed inside or just outside of bedrooms for easy access, and there should be one per occupant of the home. They cost roughly $60 per hood.
Thermal imaging costs between $500 and $4,000, depending on the scope, range, and size. If you want to know where your pets or children are during a fire or want to see exactly where the fire is to avoid it, you need thermal imaging detection. Thermal imaging gives you an accurate view of the room’s temperatures, with fire showing a different temperature than a person or cooler areas of the room.
Smoke alarms do not protect you if you cannot hear them. Deaf or Hard of Hearing people should invest in alarms that flash bright lights. A single smoke alarm with a built-in light costs around $80. They should be installed exactly like regular smoke alarms - on each level and inside and outside of sleeping quarters.
Ideally, you want a fire extinguisher you can lift and hold safely. Purchase one rated for A, B, and C, which means it works on any fire.
This depends on what you want to use it for. Ideally, it should be large enough to cover your head and upper body if you need to use it.
Yes. They can cause damage to furniture and belongings, but so can smoke and flame. In most cases, water damage is easier to clean.
This depends on the system and what you set it to. They can be heat-sensitive or particulate-sensitive, and most can be adjusted so that they do not trip unnecessarily.
Halon is considered safe for humans to breathe. It is also more efficient at putting out electrical fires than water.
Not unless there was an excessive amount, or the cigarette was held just below a sensor. In most cases, they are not sensitive enough to trip based on everyday odors or small amounts of smoke.