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Sprinklers help make sure that "Everyone Goes Home"


Fire Sprinkler System Installed to Protect Loved Ones, Historic Home

150-year-old Mills-Crosby home now protected by residential fire sprinklers

Franklin, TN – A trip to Las Vegas left Franklin resident Bob Crosby no longer willing to "roll the dice" when it came to home safety.

Crosby, who owns the historic MillsCrosby home at 211 Lewisburg Avenue, said, "I was in Las Vegas and tuned in to a channel featuring the benefits of residential sprinkler systems. I decided that’s what I needed."

He explained, "I always worried about fire because I live in a 150year old house. With children, grandchildren and friends in the home, I always worried about what we’d do. If it caught on fire it would be like a can of gasoline."

Crosby, who is retired, hired Harbin Fire Protection of Franklin to install the system. The project was completed last fall.

The MillsCrosby home at 211 Lewisburg Avenue is protected with residential fire sprinklers.  

"It is easier and less expensive to install sprinklers in new construction, rather than retrofit," said Crosby, who added, "But it’s negligible. When I realized the potential for disaster was there I couldn’t ignore that. I had to do something about it." Crosby said that he sleeps easier at night now that he has a sprinkler system, "It’s peace of mind; I don’t worry about it at all."


The sprinklers Crosby installed were recessed in the ceiling and covered with a small circular plate that is flush with the ceiling. He says they are inconspicuous. "You just don’t even notice them," said Crosby.

Each sprinkler protects an area below, and when heated by fire, activates. Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire.

Crosby said he insulated the fire sprinkler pipes as required by codes, but because he had freezing concerns, as an extra precaution he had remote thermometers placed in the attic and basement. He can look at indicators in his dining room or laundry room to make sure the pipes are not getting too cold. "Even in this cold weather it’s stayed well above freezing," said Crosby. "It hasn’t even been close."

Mr. Bob Crosby outside his historic home



According to Rick Warwick of the Williamson County Historical Society, it is believed that the original part of Crosby’s house was built around 1866 by Elizabeth Pugh Mills. He said it is hard to determine the exact date the present house was completed. Following Mrs. Mills’ death in 1907, the house remained in her family until 1939. Crosby has owned the home for about 30 years. Warwick says historic or not, home fire sprinklers are a good idea, "Adding fire protection in the form of sprinklers to any home is a worthwhile addition. Not only does it protect the physical house, it is a safetynet for those loved ones inside in the home."

Many communities like Nolensville and Pleasant View, Tenn., Scottsdale, Ariz. and Prince George's County, Md., have required residential sprinklers in new construction for several years, and they are seeing impressive results.
In Scottsdale, Ariz., fire sprinklers have been required in all new homes since 1986. Today, more than half the homes in Scottsdale are protected with sprinklers. There have been no deaths in sprinklered homes, while 13 people died in homes without sprinklers. There was less fire damage in the homes with sprinklers. The average fire loss per sprinklered incident was $2,166 compared to more than $45,000 loss per fire in homes without fire sprinklers.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fire sprinklers save lives, reduce property loss and can even help cut homeowners’ insurance premiums. Not only do home fire sprinklers dramatically reduce the risk of home fire deaths, they also decrease fire damage by as much as twothirds when compared to homes without sprinklers. Until recently, the International Building Code (IBC) only required sprinklers in most public buildings, but the 2009 IBC now calls for sprinklers in the new construction of one and two-family homes.

While Franklin has not yet adopted the requirement, Crosby says it makes sense. "It’s a positive thing for a community and I think progressive communities will adopt this," said Crosby. Franklin Fire Marshal Andy King agrees, saying, "Sprinkler systems have been proven to save property and lives, including the lives of firefighters.

They have also been proven to dramatically reduce the negative environmental impact of fires, by keeping them small." King said that because fire sprinkler systems react so quickly, they significantly reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced in a fire, thereby reducing fire damage, water usage and air pollution.


A fire sprinkler concealed cover is shown to the left of the light fixture in a home on South Margin St. in Franklin.
NFPA shows that home fire sprinkler systems control fires with only 10 to 26 gallons of water per minute. In a home without sprinklers, a fire department often arrives after the fire has grown to dangerous levels. At that point, a number of hose streams must be applied to the fire at 125 gallons per minute or more for each hose. In sprinklered residences, 90 percent of fires are contained by the operation of just one sprinkler.
King said many people mistakenly believe that sprinklers are expensive, "In reality, they only add around $1.60 per square foot to the cost of a home," said King. "So in a 2000 square foot home that would add $3,200.00," said King. "This is about the same as upgrading your countertops or flooring, and it’s something that can save your life and protect your biggest investment."

Crosby said any home he renovates or builds in the future will be equipped with residential fire sprinklers. King said he is also hoping Crosby’s actions will encourage others considering building or renovating homes in Franklin to take proactive fire protection steps. To learn more about home fire sprinklers, please contact the Franklin Fire Department at (615) 791-3270 or visit our website at