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From 1990 to 2000, 8 fires in dormitories resulted in 10 student fatalities and 11 fires in Greek housing resulted in 23 fatalities. According to the NFPA, a significant contributing factor to the majority of fires in dorms and Greek housing is the consumption of alcohol in combination with cooking, smoking, and arson. This suggests that students living away from home for the first time have a greater than average need for strong fire protection provisions. With the Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act deadline quickly approaching, now is the time to begin planning.

college university fire protection

1. Benefits of Early Fire Protection Planning

• Save Money - Beginning September 2, 2014, schools will get fined $1,000/day for non-compliance. In addition, if a fire event occurs, it is 96% more likely to be contained when fire sprinklers are installed, significantly reducing the cost of property damage.
• Schedule Preference - The earlier a school schedules their fire protection system installation, the more likely they will receive their preferred schedule. Scheduling early will allow the opportunity to schedule installation during school breaks. There are only two summers left before the deadline approaches, now is the time to begin considering a fire protection contractor.
• Protection - Protect students and school staff by installing fire sprinklers early; there has never been a multi-person death in a building with fire sprinklers.

2. Budgeting for fire protection compliance

F.E. Moran Fire Protection understands the tight budgets and timeframes of universities and colleges. That is why they will schedule the survey and provide a rule of thumb estimate during the survey process.

A typical dorm, sorority, or fraternity can expect to pay $300-$400 per sprinkler for exposed systems and $350-$500 for concealed systems. A typical dorm or Greek house will have exposed systems due to the older construction. Newer construction may choose to have concealed systems, which will cost slightly more, but concealing the system is the choice of the school. On average, a sprinkler head is needed every 75-125 ft2. For Greek housing, the average number of sprinkler heads is 160. For buildings 4 stories and under, NFPA 13R (residential code) is used. NFPA 13R excludes sprinkler heads in closets 24ft2 and under, bathrooms 55ft2or under, and concealed combustible space, such as floor joists or attic spaces. However, attic spaces that are used for storage are required to have fire sprinklers installed. Buildings over 4 stories use NFPA 13 (commercial code). This version requires sprinklers in all spaces.

A fire pump may be needed in larger dorms to ensure adequate water pressure in the event a fire sprinkler activates. A dorm between 4-7 stories has a 50% chance it may need a fire pump. A dorm 7 stories or higher will always need a fire pump. Dorm fire pumps cost $20,000-$45,000.


Other items that may affect price are construction type and the age of the building.

3. Scheduling for fire protection compliance

The schedule for construction in a dorm, sorority, or fraternity can be tight. During winter, spring, and summer breaks all maintenance and construction needs to be complete. F.E. Moran Fire Protection has worked in several universities abiding by their tight scheduling needs.

Below are key items that affect the schedule of a fire protection system in a dorm or Greek house.

• Permit.
• Coordination between school schedule and contractor. Typically, F.E. Moran Fire Protection is awarded a university or college fire protection contract during winter break, they survey during spring break or another convenient time, prefabricate in between spring and summer breaks at their on-site pre-fabrication shop, and complete the installation during summer break.
• On average, installation takes 1-2 hours per sprinkler in an exposed system.

4. Key items that will effect system readiness, budget, and schedule

When hiring a fire protection contractor, universities and colleges should consider a few key items to ensure a seamless project.

• Is the installer bondable?
• Does the contractor provide cost-conscious construction options?
• Does the contractor provide training for in-house staff to reduce maintenance costs?
• During the installation phase, will the contractor schedule around the student break calendar?
• Does the contractor have experience installing fire protection in dorms and Greek housing? 
• Does the contractor offer inspection, testing, and maintenance services to ensure systems continue to work properly?
• What is the contractor's reputation with the local fire department?
• Will the contractor provide a 3D model of the fire sprinkler system so the school staff can envision the final look of the system?
• Does the fire protection contractor provide a warranty for parts and labor?
• What is the contractor's safety rating?

F.E. Moran Fire Protection has been providing fire protection solutions for colleges and universities since 1970. With over thirty dorms and Greek houses protected by F.E. Moran Fire Protection, they have the experience to seamlessly design, schedule, install, and maintain fire protection solutions with minimal disruption to residents and school staff.