When it comes to apartment and condo living, there are a lot of things to consider. The pros and cons can be long lists, depending on what a person likes and what might bother them. But one of the biggest issues that some people overlook when deciding whether to live in a condo or an apartment is safety. A large part of that safety is the potential risk of fire, because getting out of a large complex is far different than fleeing a burning home. That's why sprinkler systems are such valuable keys to safety for anyone who lives in a condo or an apartment building.
What Do Fire Sprinklers Offer?
A fire sprinkler system can offer people who live in apartments or condos, whether they rent or buy, two very important things: Increased safety in the case of a fire, and peace of mind.
But not all complexes have fire protection at this level. When there are small apartment buildings that only have a few units, fire suppression through a sprinkler system may not technically be required. Older buildings may also be “grandfathered in,” and not required to have these systems installed. Current code in most locations calls for fire sprinkler systems on larger, newer apartments and condos, though—and it's a good standard to have when looking for places to live, regardless of a place's age.
It depends on the size of the building, its age, and the state, city, or county codes where that building is being constructed. While not always required, though, fire sprinkler systems can definitely make a big difference when it comes to how well a building and its occupants survive a fire. These systems can also go a long way toward protecting people's belongings and lowering insurance rates for the buildings' owners as well.
How Do These Systems Work?
Fire sprinkler systems are installed in the ceilings of buildings, and the sprinkler heads protrude through the ceiling a few inches. They are out of the way and unobtrusive, but they are also strategically placed where they will do the most good and provide the most coverage during a fire. This is to help save lives, but also in an effort to save the building if a fire should break out. Most of these systems are set up to detect heat, so the sprinklers automatically go off if they are triggered.
This can be a problem if the sprinkler heads or other sensitive equipment is not placed correctly, because too much heat from a stove or other appliance could potentially trigger a fire alarm. That's something that engineers and installers work to avoid when they put a fire sprinkler system into a building. It helps reduce the chances that there will be false alarms that can cause a lot of water damage even when there was no fire to put out.
What to Look for Before Signing the Lease or Buying a Unit
When moving into an apartment or condo, potential renters or owners should look to see if there are fire sprinkler systems in place. Asking about these systems is also important, because some are more obvious than others. Additionally, some buildings may have fire suppression in place in common areas but not in individual units, and some may have a mix of older and newer buildings in the complex. It's important to ask about this issue, because there is a difference between having adequate fire sprinklers and only having the bare minimum needed, or none at all in the case of a smaller or older building.
Not Real. ⇩ ⇩ ⇩
Among the best things that buyers and renters alike can do is to work with a good real estate agent when they are looking for a new place to live. This can help them find the apartment or condo they really want and need, and can also keep them more mindful about any issues that are going to be important to their safety, such as fire sprinkler systems (or a lack thereof) in each place they view.
Gary Ashton is the CEO and owner of The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage. His real estate team is #1 in Tennessee, Nashville and now #4 in the world.