For all the different fire suppression systems out there, the one that most people are probably immediately familiar with are fire sprinklers. At work, in the office? Look above you, scan the room. You’ll see those familiar, upside-down steel fountains positioned around the room. Strategically spaced so that, should things heat up and a fire catch, the immediate responding downpour could halt it in its tracks.
Ever wonder how they work? Where does that water come from? Just how much water will flood the office floor? This time on the Titan Alarm blog we’re covering fire sprinklers from top to bottom, everything you ever wanted to know and probably some you’ve never thought of!
Let’s start with the classics.
What are Fire Sprinklers?
Fire sprinklers are a system of water protection. It consists of a water supply system, providing adequate pressure and flowrate to a water distribution piping system, onto which fire sprinklers are connected. The specific fire sprinkler or sprinkle head is the component that discharges the water when a fire has been detected.
How Do Fire Sprinklers Work?
Fire sprinkler heads are held together by one of two things, a heat-sensitive glass bulb or a two-part metal link held by an alloy. The alloy link or bulb keeps pressure on a pipe cap, acting as a plug to keep water from flowing out of the sprinkler head. When the ambient temperature in the room, surrounding the sprinkler head rises (like from a fire) the bulb will break, releasing the cap and releasing the water down on where the fire is suspected.
Because these links and bulbs rely on the increased ambient temperature to trigger them, only the sprinklers near the fire are triggered which a) limits the amount of water wasted and damage caused by the response as well as b) focusing the available water on the needed spot.
Who Invented Fire Sprinklers?
Here’s something you may be surprised to hear! The very first fire sprinkler system was designed by Leonardo Da Vinci back in the 1400s! The Italian genius inventor set up his kitchen with an oven, conveyor belts, and primitive fire sprinklers. During a large banquet, everything went wrong and the sprinklers went to work, putting out any fire but washing away most of the kitchen with it!
The modern fire sprinklers were designed in phases with several different inventors improving on the designs that came before them. British inventor Sir William Congreve created and patented a manual sprinkler in 1812. In 1874 Henry S. Parmalee in Connecticut created and installed the first automatic sprinkler. This didn’t gain too much traction, but the manufacturer of the Parmalee sprinkler, Frederick Grinnell further perfected the design leading to the sprinkler heads you see in the ceiling today!
Where Are Fire Sprinklers Installed?
re sprinkler systems are extensively used worldwide, with over 40 million sprinkler heads fitted each year.
Why Use Fire Sprinklers?
Because they work! When it comes to fire suppression a functioning fire sprinkler system does a whole lot of work in putting them out and keeping them controlled. A stat from the National Fire Prevention Association puts it at over 96% of fires in buildings completely protected by sprinkler systems were controlled by the sprinklers alone.
What Are The Many Types of Fire Sprinklers?
Good question! There are several types of sprinkler systems out there. Here are a few of the big ones for residential and commercial buildings.
Wet pipe systems are the most common type. They keep a constant supply of water in the sprinkler heads, enabling the system to react quickly upon detection of a fire. Wet sprinklers are often the best choice in buildings where there is no risk of freezing.
In a dry pipe system, the water is not stored in the pipes. Instead, the pipes are filled with pressurized air, while a specially designed control valve holds back the water flow. When the system’s sensors detect heat from a fire, the sprinkler heads automatically open. The resulting drop in pressure opens the valve, allowing the water to flow through the sprinkler head and onto the fire. Dry pipe systems provide an alternative to wet pipes in areas where freezing is an issue.
Pre-action sprinklers are designed to prevent accidental water discharge, making them a good option for buildings containing high-value or sensitive materials. The pipes are filled with air instead of water. The triggering of two sensors is required to initiate the water flow from within the piping system.
As the name indicates, deluge systems release a heavy amount of water onto a fire, making them a good choice for structures containing flammable liquids, as well as warehousing and manufacturing facilities.
With all that laid out you should better understand fire sprinklers and how they can help your business or home should a fire occur. In most cities and states sprinkler systems are required and you likely have them installed already – if that’s the case you will want to make sure the sprinklers are in working order and ready to go! The last thing you want is to rely on a safety system that’s not functioning.