Ruth Das - 5th Oct 2021

Everything you need to know about Fire Sprinklers 

You've seen them in movies, you've seen them in real life. They've been around for decades and have constantly proved their effectiveness in providing fire safety to life and property. Fire sprinklers, according to statistics, are up to 95% effective at controlling fires because they attack the seat of the fire directly..

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Types of Sprinkler systems

Fire Sprinkler systems look complicated but follow a few simple factors.

Wet Pipe System

Wet pipe sprinkler systems—or traditional fire sprinklers—are the most common across residential and commercial buildings. When a fire begins, the heat activates the nearest sprinkler head, releasing pressurized water stored in the pipes. Each sprinkler head is activated independently, reducing water damages in the event of a false alarm. Wet pipe systems are an inexpensive, low-maintenance option appropriate for offices, schools, and commercial properties.

Dry Pipe System

As opposed to wet pipe systems, dry pipe systems do not store water in their pipes. Instead, they are filled with pressurized air or nitrogen, which is released if a fire activates the valves in the sprinkler head. The pipes then fill with water and discharges it over the smoke or flames. While this system is more complex and costly than a wet pipe system, it is the most appropriate for cold climates where there is a high risk of frozen pipes halting an emergency fire response

Pre-Action System

Pre-action systems are another form of dry pipe sprinkler but it requires a two-step activation. When heat or smoke is detected, the pre-action valve will open and allow water into the pipes. Then, sprinkler heads can be individually activated to release water over the fire. This two-step process enables facilities to shut off the system in case of a false alarm, protecting their assets from water damage. Pre-action systems are especially useful in places where accidental discharge could lead to irreparable damages, such as museums, libraries, and data centers.

Deluge System

Deluge sprinkler systems are another version of a dry pipe system. However, as opposed to all previous options, the sprinkler heads in this system are always open. They do not have a heat-sensing element in the sprinkler head itself and require an external smoke or heat sensor to activate. Once the heat is detected, water fills the pipes and is released to all open sprinkler heads, creating a flooding effect across the entire area. This system is most often used in industries with flammable liquids that are likely to spread rapidly.

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Fire Sprinkler Heads.

A pendent sprinkler - the most common type of sprinkler head.

What are sprinkler heads made of?

Nearly all fire sprinklers are composed of the same components: a sealing assembly or "plug" that prevents water from escaping, a heat-sensitive element that allows water to flow at a given temperature, a deflector that distributes water effectively, and a frame. Fire sprinkler heads feature heat-sensitive parts – either a glass bulb or a fusible link – that cause them to activate at a specific temperature. When a sprinkler head has a glass bulb, that bulb typically contains a glycerin-based liquid. Once the air around the sprinkler reaches a certain temperature – (often 68˚C or 93˚C) – the liquid expands which causes the glass to break. The water held back by the bulb then escapes and flows toward the deflector, which disperses it throughout the room. Fusible link fire sprinklers replace that bulb with metal components secured to the sprinkler by a heat-sensitive alloy. Rising temperatures cause the alloy to melt, allowing the metal elements to fall from the sprinkler head and activate the sprinkler.   

There are four main types of sprinkler heads:

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Pendent Sprinkler Heads

  • Hangs down from the ceiling
  • Sprays water downward in a circular pattern to maximize coverage
  • Ideal for offices, hotels, and factories, etc
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Concealed Pendant Heads

  • Are located within the ceiling and are hidden by a cover plate
  • Works similar to a pendant sprinkler head after the cover plate falls off once it reaches 6˚C lower than fire sprinkler temperature
  • Ideal for places where aesthetics are a concern.
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Upright Sprinkler Heads

  • Stands upright
  • Sprays water upward in a hemispherical pattern
  • Useful in buildings with exposed ceilings like mechanical rooms or hard to reach places like beams and ducts
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Side Wall Sprinkler Heads

  • Mounted on the side of the wall, only have half of a deflector
  • Sprays water in half circle/crescent shape
  • Great for small rooms, hallways, and places sprinkler pipes run up walls
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Installing a Sprinkler System

Contact us and we'd love to help you out on settling a sprinkler system.

Fire sprinkler systems are an essential part of a complete fire safety protection plan for any facility. While it is important to understand the difference between available sprinkler system options, the design, installation, and maintenance of these systems should always be handled by trained professionals. Once your sprinkler system is installed, our fire protection professionals will work with you to develop a maintenance program that meets your needs and ensures the utmost safety for your employees and assets.

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