Fire Sprinkler Alternatives

7 Replies

Working through a messy permitting issue in Los Angeles, CA.  LADBS is requiring installation of a fire sprinkler system.  I plan to submit for a modification.  Does anyone have advice on an alternative Active Fire Protection System that is less expensive but will still satisfy the city in place of sprinklers?  Can anyone explain an alarm system that goes right to the fire station, and the costs involved?  I am also willing to put in fire extinguishers as a Passive system.  Thank you

Can't say I know your codes. But know the codes in general. Fire extinguishers are considered close to useless by the code for the code issues you are involved in. A sleeping person will not be able to magically wake up and use one. So no go there.

A fully smoke detector-ed building might pass the code section as an alternative - But doubt it. The issue you are fighting is that a sprinkler system actively puts out the fire. That is what LA wants to happen. Because that saves lives. There is no active fire suppression system that is cheaper then good old fashioned water. Every other type of system is extremely more expensive.

The code is designed to save lives not money so you are in an uphill battle. There has been a push for a couple of decades to get sprinklers into houses. I expect that trend to continue. These systems have been getting a lot cheaper but large cities like LA and Chicago and New York which happen to be unionized find ways to make everything more expensive.

Thank you, Tom.  Are you familiar with any type of direct connect alarm?  Is this one of the systems included in "extremely more expensive" than water?

Can't say I have heard that term. Sounds like a direct connection of an alarm system to the fire department or police dispatch. In my area only certain commercial structures are required to have this. Others structures are not allowed. Police departments have tried for years to get rid of this for residential due to false alarms. Not sure about fire systems they don't have quite the false alarm issue.

Commercial properties are required to be monitored generally. Residential are not required - generally.

Hi Tom,

Just wanted to update the thread.  I applied for a modification of the fire sprinklers based on the proximity of my building to a hydrant and a fire station, and on the fact that there is no new construction occurring on the property.  I obtained the mod with the condition that in place of fire sprinklers I had to install a Fire Alarm System.  Strict adherence to code means that a Fire Alarm System is composed of a central panel tied to smoke detectors, strobes, horns, and pull stations throughout the building, that will automatically trigger a call to a particular call station (depends on the vendor/installer), which will then call the fire dept and 2 personal phone numbers on file.

In the case of my tiny triplex, this would mean that when a tenant burned the popcorn or sparked up a joint at an odd hour, the whole building would go off in lights and honks and false alarm calls to make me panic!!  At an estimated cost of about $14000 (+headaches.)  The installers that I spoke to had never heard of this type of system being necessary on such a small scale.  I had to go to the guy who wrote the modification several times to clarify it and bring the system down to scale and more realistic for a building that size.

Do not misunderstand that I am opposed to safety in favor of my pocketbook.  There is more to this story!  I am happy to explain to any investors dealing with a similar issue.  My experience is very specific to the City of Los Angeles, but hopefully it helps someone.

Why on earth would you need sprinklers in triplex? I don't think I ever seen sprinkler system in small under 4 unit properties. More than that... even fire extinguishers are not required majority of time.

@Ewa Reza Fire sprinklers can be required even in SFR in Los Angeles

Here is the excerpt from LADBS Plan check correction sheet:

g. Fire Sprinkler Requirements 

1) Provide an approved automatic fire sprinkler system on any lot fronting a Substandard Hillside Limited Street or located either more than 2 miles from a fire station housing a Los Angeles City Fire Department Truck Company or more than 1 ½ miles from a fire station housing a Los Angeles Fire Department Engine Company with scope as listed below: 

i. New buildings or structures 

ii. Addition to an existing One-Family Dwelling or Accessory Building that increases Residential Floor Area by 50% or more of the existing floor area. 

iii. Major Remodel when the aggregate value within one-year period exceeds 50% of the replacement cost of the Dwelling or Accessory Building. (12.21C10(h))

Yes. It's all about the time that the fire dept will reach you, if they can even do. Most fire trucks can't access a very steep slope. Even if it's less than those regulations. but I think we are a little late on our replies @Artur Amirkhanyan lol

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