Fire Sprinkler Systems
Sprinklers have been proven to reduce the impact of fire. They are a life saving tool that brings many benefits, some of which include:
- Reducing death and injury from fire;
- Reducing the risks to firefighters;
- Limiting the production of smoke and fumes;
- Protecting property and possessions by dealing with a fire when it’s small and more easily controllable;
- Drastically reduces the damage caused by a fire and therefore minimises the disruption and time taken to ‘return to normal’ - costs the equivalent of installing a central heating system;
- Costs very little to maintain.
Fires start small but in less than 30 seconds can turn into a major fire. In just two minutes, thick black smoke can fill a house making it life threatening and by five minutes the whole house can be engulfed in flames. Temperatures within a room can be 100 degrees Celsius at floor level and rise to 600 Celsius at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.
A residential fire sprinkler system consists of individually heat-activated heads connected to a network of pipes. Each head contains a heat element (a fluid filled glass bulb) that breaks at a prescribed temperature (approximately 70 Celsius), and triggers that individual head to release water. These heat elements are not affected by smoke, but heat only. Since each head is triggered individually by the heat from a fire below it, only the sprinkler head nearest the fire will activate – if it’s not sufficient to control the fire, the next nearest head will activate, and so on. In over 95% of cases, only one sprinkler operates and it is enough to control or extinguish the fire.
A fully automated sprinkler system can therefore tackle a fire at a very early stage, even if no one is around, releasing water directly over the source of the fire.
One of the common misconceptions about sprinkler systems is that they result in significant water damage throughout the house. As mentioned above, only the head nearest the fire will activate, not every head in the house, thereby limiting the amount of water used. The two key points when considering water damage are:
- A residential fire sprinkler typically discharges less than 75 liters per minute whereas a firefighter’s hose discharges more than 750 liters per minute. A sprinkler system will use between 1/10th and 1/100th of the water used by the Fire Department.
- The combination of the sprinkler’s quick response, small water flow, and low pressure significantly reduces water and property damage. In fact, research shows that damage is 71% less when sprinklers are in use, compared to an equivalent unit with no sprinkler.