What are sprinklers?
An automatic fire sprinkler system is one of the most effective methods of controlling or suppressing a fire. Sprinkler systems are made up of a network of pipes in the walls and ceilings that have sprinkler heads providing protection to hallways, rooms, stairways and other areas of a building. In most systems, the pipes are always filled with water under pressure; the system is ready to do its job of putting out a fire quickly! Sometimes sprinklers are concealed behind small metal plates in the walls and ceiling. Even though you can't see the sprinkler head, they are still there and able to spray water on a fire.
Why are sprinklers important for life safety?
Sprinklers do not rely upon human factors such as familiarity with escape routes or emergency assistance. They go to work immediately to reduce the danger. Sprinklers prevent the fast developing fires of intense heat, which are capable of trapping and killing dozens of building occupants.
How do sprinklers work?
Sprinklers are generally located at the ceiling level of a building. The fire sprinkler has a fusible link that melts when the heat given off by a fire reaches a certain heat level. When the link melts and the sprinkler opens, water flows out in a spray pattern. The sprinkler system is designed to flow a specific amount of water per square foot based on the type of hazard that it is protecting.
How many sprinklers activate in a fire?
Despite what many people think, generally only one or two sprinklers open up and flow water during a fire-all they do not go off at once are not designed to go off at once!
How much water damage will a sprinkler head cause?
Since the amount of water coming out of a sprinkler head is much less than that in a fire hose, the water damage will be considerably less. After a fire is put out by a sprinkler head, there are often comments about "all of the water damage that the sprinkler caused". What people often don't realize is how much fire AND water damage there would be if the sprinkler head had not activated and controlled the fire!
How effective are sprinklers?
According to the NFPA, automatic sprinklers are highly effective elements parts of the total system design for fire protection in buildings. Sprinklers typically reduce your chances of dying by one-half to two-thirds in any kind of property where they are used. The most effective fire loss prevention and reduction measure for both life and property is the installation and maintenance of home fire sprinklers. Fire sprinkler systems offer the optimum level of fire safety because they control the fire immediately in the room of origin, help limit the spread of fire, and often extinguish it before the fire department arrives.
Can sprinklers be damaged?
While sprinklers are very rugged devices, they should not be tampered with, misused or vandalized. For example coat hangers or other objects should not be hung from a sprinkler head, for example, because the hanger may accidentally strike the fusible link element and open the sprinkler head. In another example, if a sparkler sprinkler head is covered with clothing, this may reduce the heat getting to the sprinkler and delay its opening.
My building is fireproof. Why do I need sprinklers?
Often, it is not the building that burns in fatal fires, but the contents-furniture, clothing and other furnishings. A sprinkler system will stop the fire in its tracks before it has time to spread very far.
We have smoke detectors in our building. Do we need sprinklers too?
Smoke detectors provide an excellent method of detecting a fire early and warning everyone to get out. However, the fire still has to be put out quickly before it can spread and put a lot of other people in danger. That is the job for sprinklers, which can react in seconds. While we have great fire departments with excellent response times, it may take a fire department up to ten minutes, or more, until they are able to put water onto the fire.
This information is from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (2/07)
Fire Video Clip
Please click on this link! You will be amazed at the quick progress of a home fire, with and without fire sprinklers!