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About Sprinkler Systems

SPRINKLER FACTS

Fire sprinklers save lives

The NFPA has no record of a fire killing more than two people in a completely sprinklered building where the system was properly operating, except in an explosion or flash fire or where fire service members were killed during fire suppression operations.

Fire sprinklers actually reduce water damage

Fire sprinklers control a fire in the early stages when less water is needed. Most fires can be controlled by only one or two automatic fire sprinklers. Firefighters use an average of 8 times more water than sprinklers to contain a fire.

Fire sprinkler system effectiveness

When sprinklers operate they are effective 96% of the time. When sprinklers fail to operate the most common cause is manual shutoff of the system. When sprinklers operate but are ineffective the most common cause is ineffective system performance or system component damage.

Sources: Fire Sprinkler Initiative and NFPA

About | Fire Sprinkler Protection | Engineered Corrosion SolutionsFire sprinkler systems actively protect people, building contents, and structures from fire hazards through a network a piping, valves, and sprinklers attached to a dedicated water supply. Fire sprinkler systems have been in use since the 1800s and today are installed in millions of structures throughout the world. Sprinkler systems were once an optional feature intended to reduce insurance costs for commercial or industrial building owners, but various building and life safety codes now mandate the installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems in many different building and occupancy types. There are two major types of fire sprinkler systems: wet pipe sprinkler systems and dry pipe sprinkler systems. The vast majority of installed sprinkler systems are wet pipe because of the reliability and simplicity of system components (estimated at 85% of all systems). Dry pipe sprinkler systems are the second most common type of sprinkler system and are most often used in one of two scenarios:
  1. Unconditioned structures where ambient temperatures may cause water-filled pipes to freeze (required by code in areas subject to temperatures below 40°F)
  2. Locations were accidental water discharge or leaking is considered unacceptable by the building owner or tenant; includes mission-critical facilities, cultural resources, electronic equipment, etc.
Because water cannot be present in the dry system piping until system operation, the piping is maintained with supervisory gas to prevent water discharge until a loss of gas pressure occurs. Preaction fire sprinkler systems are a subset of dry pipe systems used where additional detection devices are required to activate water discharge.  A single-interlock preaction system admits water to sprinkler piping upon operation of detection devices, such as heat or smoke detectors.  A double-interlock preaction system admits water to sprinkler piping upon operation of both detection devices and automatic sprinklers. Automatic sprinklers will discharge at a specific temperature rating depending on the occupancy and hazard type. Contrary to common belief, in most sprinkler systems each sprinkler operates individually. In wet pipe systems water discharge is immediate upon operation of the sprinkler, however in dry pipe and preaction systems there can be a delay of up to 60 seconds while the supervisory gas in the system is exhausted and the dry or preaction valve is opened at the sprinkler riser to permit water to enter the piping system. There are several other types of fire sprinkler systems that make up a small percentage of all systems and include:
  • Deluge systems that use open sprinklers which provide simultaneous application of water over a special hazard area such as an aircraft hangar
  • Foam systems that discharge a mix of water and foam concentrate to protect special hazard areas like flammable liquid storage
  • Water mist systems operate at higher pressures to produce much smaller water droplets with high surface areas capable of more rapid heat absorption; these systems are used where water supplies may be low or where water damage may be a concern
The one thing all fire sprinkler systems have in common is a susceptibility to corrosion damage. When you combine water, oxygen, and steel in the same environment corrosion is inevitable.