May 22, 2024

Why Fire Safety is a Priority for Gen Z and Millennial Homebuyers

by Alex Gross

In today’s real estate market, a variety of home styles are available, and many homeowners are gravitating towards open-concept floor plans. When searching for a home, buyers consider flow, ability to entertain, and clean lines in the structure. Identifying how their home will be protected if a fire breaks out is not always top of mind for homeowners. In fact, many avoid thinking about this scary, uncomfortable, and challenging hardship.

While open-concept floor plans are one of the most popular features in a home, the design choice contributes to increased deaths in home fires. “Open space and high ceilings with plenty of air make it easier for fire to spread in a home, and homes today are often built with unprotected wood construction,” says Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

“The second issue is that we have lots of synthetics in our homes, in everything from our clothes to our couch cushions, and we have a lot of electronics that burn easily,” she says. “When you combine all that, people have as little as two minutes to escape when a fire starts to avoid being overcome by smoke or flames.”

According to NFPA data, the estimated home fire death toll in 2022 was 2,710 deaths. That number is 49% lower than the largest death toll on record, which was 5,400 in 1981. However, this is an increase in deaths compared to the lowest point in 2012 at 2,380 deaths. This trend is likely explained because of today’s home design preferences and the highly flammable qualities of the materials we have in our homes.

“Home fire prevention is extremely important and so are working smoke alarms to alert people to a fire,” Carli says. “But the third way to mitigate death from a home fire is sprinklers. When the sprinkler activates, it will either put out the fire in that room or at least slow the spread of the fire to give people the time to escape.”

NFPA data shows that the fire death for civilians in 2021 was 89% lower when fire sprinklers were installed in the structure compared to those that didn’t have sprinklers installed. The injury rate for firefighters was also 60% percent lower when sprinklers were installed compared to instances where they were not.

A recent study conducted by Green Builder Media found that 85% of the Gen Z community and 75% of Millennials are willing to pay more upfront for resiliency upgrades if it would lower the total cost of homeownership over time.

While it is important for everyone to be aware of the threats fire poses to their home, we see many of today’s homebuyers, such as the Gen Z and Millennial generations, concerned about resilience and safety. They are interested in purchasing homes that have fire sprinklers installed, or installing these systems if their homes do not already have them, making it an increasingly important offering for builders, plumbers, and contractors alike.

So, as home fire sprinklers continue to expand throughout the residential building landscape, education and awareness will be key. Learning about the benefits, design, and installation of these life-safety systems will help move the industry forward for a more safe and sustainable future.

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