Myths & Facts About Fire Protection Sprinklers

Automatic sprinklers have been protecting property for over 100 years. In this time there has never been a multiple fatality of building occupants from fire in a fully sprinkled building protected by a properly designed, installed, and maintained sprinkler system.

 Will water damage from a sprinkler system be more extensive than fire damage?

Think about this unfortunate scenario: There is a fire in your house/building. You call the fire department (911) and the fire continues burning and causing damage until they arrive on scene. When they do arrive they attempt to extinguish the fire using 190-473 litres (50-125 gallons) per minute of water from their fire hoses. The house is left with fire damage, smoke damage, water damage and possibly the loss of all your possessions.

The sprinkler system scenario: There is a fire in your house/building. You call 911 but in the meantime a single, or possibly two, quick response sprinkler heads activate. The sprinkler quickly extinguishes the fire and keeps the smoke damage and toxic gases to a minimum as well. Quick response sprinklers release approximately 30-90 litres (8-24 gallons) of water per minute directly on the fire. Once the fire is confirmed extinguisher the water can be turned off and the water/fire damage is confined to one small part of the building.

Myth – When a fire activates a sprinkler head, all the heads will go off.

Fact – Fire protection sprinklers respond independently to a rated temperature setting of approximately 68.3 degrees Celsius (155 degrees Fahrenheit). Usually, only one sprinkler is activated to extinguish or limit the fire to its room of origin.

Myth – Sprinklers can activate by accident

Fact – The odds of accidental discharge of a sprinkler head due to a manufacturing defect are 1 in 16 million per year. Each model of sprinkler is subjected to rigorous laboratory tests to guarantee long-term integrity. Home fire sprinkler systems are at least as reliable as home plumbing systems.

Myth – Sprinklers systems are expensive

Fact – This is generally a statement of priority. We think nothing of updating our furniture or electronics. A sprinkler system can be installed in a new home for less than $2.00 to $3.00 per square foot which, in many cases, would represent less than 2% of the total construction cost. If the decision to use sprinklers is made early enough in the planning process, sprinklers can actually reduce total construction costs through the use of code incentives or “trade-offs” permitting reductions in fire resistance ratings, longer exit travel distances, and a wider range of interior finish materials in sprinkled buildings. Judiciously applied, these incentives make it possible to build a safer building for less money.

Sprinkler system installation in existing homes is also simple but slightly more expensive.

Your family, possessions and home are an irreplaceable part of your life. Can you afford not to have a sprinkler system?

 How do fire sprinklers operate?

Automatic fire sprinklers are individually heat-activated, and tied into a network of piping with water under pressure. When the heat of a fire raises the sprinkler temperature to its operating point (usually 155ºF), a solder link will melt or a liquid-filled glass bulb will shatter to open that single sprinkler, releasing water directly over the source of the heat.

Sprinklers operate automatically in the area of fire origin, preventing a fire from growing undetected to a dangerous size, while simultaneously sounding an alarm. Automatic fire sprinklers keep fires small. The majority of fires in sprinkled buildings are handled by one or two sprinklers.

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