Fire Safety Considerations When Building a New Home

Fire Safety Considerations When Building A New Home

Posted by Sarah Snipes on June 3, 2024

Building a new home gives you a unique opportunity to take advantage of modern fire safety tools and systems. Protect your home and family with these up-to-date recommendations from the experts.

Each year in the United States, more than 350,000 home fires break out, killing nearly 3,000 people and injuring another 11,000.

Most of these fires start in the kitchen, where cooking incidents account for around 170,000 fires each year.

Other fires start when a heat source (like a fireplace or a space heater) or part of an electrical system malfunctions.

The good news is, there is plenty you can do to protect your home from becoming a statistic, especially if you follow these tips on installing and maintaining modern safety equipment.

Smoke alarms


The #1 piece of safety equipment you MUST install and maintain in your home is a smoke alarm. That’s because the safest response to any home fire is to escape — get outside and stay outside and call 911 rather than trying to fight the fire yourself.

From the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): “The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.”

If possible, install interconnected smoke alarms so that when one alarm sounds, all the others do, too.

Install smoke alarms in every bedroom or at least outside each sleeping area. Install alarms on each level of your home, including the basement.

Maintain your smoke alarms:

  • Test smoke alarms once per month
  • Replace alarms every ten years (check the manufacturer’s date, stamped on the back)

Fire extinguishers

We can’t emphasize this enough: if a fire breaks out, the best thing to do is leave your home and call 911 rather than trying to fight the fire yourself.

But it’s also true that you can suppress small fires with a fire extinguisher.

If a fire is contained (not growing) and the room hasn’t filled with smoke, you can try to extinguish it. Think of a small fire in a pan on the stove, for example.

Choose a multi-use fire extinguisher that you can easily handle and place one on each level of your home. Teach every capable adult in your household how to use it ahead of time.

Experts recommend keeping a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen, where most house fires begin.

Sprinkler systems

You might think of fire sprinklers as commercial fire prevention equipment — they’re used in restaurants, gyms and hotels because of code requirements, right?

However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, you should seriously consider installing a fire sprinkler system in your home. The risk of dying in a home fire is 85 percent lower in homes with working sprinkler systems. And sprinklers reduce property loss by 70 percent.

In-home sprinkler systems work to contain the fire while you wait for the firefighters to arrive. Sometimes, the sprinklers completely suppress fires on their own — protecting the health and safety of the firefighters when they get there.

If you are worried about how an in-home sprinkler system will look, don't be.

No one wants an unsightly silver industrial sprinkler system protruding from their ceiling.

This is why homeowners typically choose a concealed sprinkler system. These systems are barely noticeable and resemble a small disc flush with the ceiling, kind of like a speaker.

You can even have them matched to your ceiling color or material. 

Check out the image below and see if you can spot the sprinklers (discreet, right?).

Indoor residential concealed sprinkler system

What about when it goes off? Will it soak my entire home?

Not unless your entire house is on fire.

Unfortunately, movies portray indoor sprinkler systems going off throughout the entire home when there's a small kitchen fire, for example, ruining and soaking everything.

The truth is that indoor residential sprinkler systems are programmed to go off only in the room or space affected by a fire, not the whole house.

So, if you have a laundry room fire, for example, you don't need to worry about your precious artwork being destroyed in the living room or study.

Home sprinkler systems are affordable, with an average cost of $1.35 per square foot and require minimal piping and labor.

NFPA is on a mission to get sprinkler system requirements into residential building codes throughout the U.S. Some counties and cities are already adopting these requirements.

Continue to learn about fire prevention

We wanted to keep this article simple and focus mainly on the most critical components of home fire safety equipment for your new home or renovation, but there are many other aspects of fire prevention and safety.

To learn about the proper storage of fuels, maintenance and repair of heating and electrical components, and much more, learn from these trusted sources:

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Sarah Snipes

Sarah Snipes is a freelance writer based in Western North Carolina. When she’s not writing, you can find her outside—usually hunting or fishing with her husband. Sarah is passionate about wellness and enjoys strength training, practicing yoga, and cooking healthy meals in her free time.

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