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Sprinkler Fact Sheet

Why Sprinklers?

Water is simply the best extinguisher for most fires. Sprinklers apply water directly to flames and heat, which causes cooling of the combustion process and prevents the ignition of adjacent combustible material. Sprinklers are most effective during the beginning stage of a fire when it is relatively easy to control. A properly installed sprinkler will detect the fire's heat, initiate alarm, and begin suppression within moments after flames appear. In most instances, sprinklers will control the spread of fire within minutes of their activation, which will in turn result in significantly less damage, both by the fire itself and the water to put it out, than would happen without sprinklers.

The Benefits

  • Immediate identification and control of a developing fire. Sprinkler systems respond at all times, including periods of low occupancy. Control is generally instantaneous.
  • Immediate alert. In conjunction with the building fire alarm system, automatic sprinkler systems can notify occupants and emergency response personnel of the developing fire.
  • Reduced heat, smoke, and water damage. Significantly less heat and smoke will be generated when the fire is extinguished at an early stage. The amount of water used by a sprinkler to extinguish a fire is typically far less than conventional fire hoses, thus greatly reducing the likelihood of widespread water damage. In addition, there are no known instances of accidental discharges from properly installed sprinkler systems.
  • Enhanced life safety. Occupants and fire fighters will be subject to less danger when the growth of a fire is checked early.
  • Design flexibility. Building codes allow flexibility in the placement of exit route and fire/smoke barriers in the presence of a sprinkler system since early fire control minimizes demand on these systems.
  • Enhanced security. A sprinkler-controlled fire can minimize opportunities for intrusion and theft by reducing the demand for security forces in the event of a fire.
  • Decreased insurance premiums. Sprinkler-controlled fires cause less damage than fires in non-sprinklered buildings. Insurance underwriters may offer reduced premiums for properties protected with sprinkler.
When Are Sprinklers Required?
Many factors come into play when determining whether sprinklers are required, including the type of use, the number of people that will occupy the space, and the type of building construction. The State of Vermont Department of Labor and Industry administers this code. For more information, contact the Department's Barre office at 479-4434.

Who Can Design or Install Sprinkler Systems?
Sprinkler system designers and installers must be licensed by the State of Vermont Department of Labor and Industry. Some installers have designers working for them. You can get a list of licensed installers and designers by calling the Department of Labor and Industry at 479-4434 or by viewing their Web site at

Will I Need Permits?
Sprinkler system designs will need to be submitted to the Department of Labor and Industry for review and approval. The City of Montpelier also requires a building permit for sprinkler installations.

How Much Will it Cost?
Cost generally range from $1.00 to $1.50 for each square foot of the area to be sprinkled. Cost could be higher depending on the particulars of the installation such as the need to integrate with architectural detail.

Is There Any Financial Help Out There?
  • The Vermont Downtown Program offers tax credits of up to 50% of the cost of installation for buildings that are located within Montpelier's Designated Downtown (see contact info below).
  • Reduced insurance premiums -- check with your insurer.


Chris Lumbra      
Montpelier Assistant Building Inspector
Planning and Development
39 Main St. (City Hall)
Montpelier, VT 05602
802-262-6170    Direct
802-223-9506    Office
802-262-6080    Fax
Hours 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM, Mon- Fri


State Permits, Code Requirements,
Licensed Designers and Installers
Labor and Industry
Stan Baranowski,
Assistant State Fire Marshal
(802) 479-4434

Funding Assistance
Vermont Downtown Program
Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
Joss Besse
(802) 828-5212

Consultant/Technical Assistance

Fire Safety Network
Nick Artim Fire Safety Consultant
Fire Safety Network
(802) 388-1064

Funding Assistance
Montpelier Downtown Community Association
Suzanne Hechmer, Executive Director
(802) 223-9604

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Francis Brooks Retires from Fire Department

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