Fire sprinkler systems are highly employed and reliable fire protection systems that are employed across many buildings to meet the local guidelines and keep the residents safe. Sprinkler heads and smoke detectors can work together to avoid loss of lives and property damage due to fire. A smoke detector will stimulate the alarms but cannot eliminate them, and fire sprinkler systems will eliminate the fire but cannot alert the residents. There are some misconceptions about the working of fire sprinkler systems related to water damage propagated mainly in movies and televisions. Keep reading below to know more about fire and fire sprinkler activation.
How is fire spread?
Fire spreads by shifting heat energy from combustions in three important ways:
- Radiation: It is mainly by the heat that is emitted via electromagnetic waves. For example, a burning structure can pass the heat to nearby structures leading to the passage of fire.
- Conduction: It is the transfer of heat via or within the subject due to close contact in the vicinity.
- Convection: This is due to the flow of gas or fluid from heated regions through circulations like room air.
Activation of fire sprinkler systems:
Fire Sprinklers Activate with Heat:
- As heat is accompanied by smoke during the fire there is a feeling that sprinklers are activated via smoke. But fire sprinklers are activated through the heat in the below manner.
- Fire sprinklers consist of a tiny glass bulb with a glycerine-based solution that stops the water flow in normal situations. When the temperature rises to around 135-degree Fahrenheit and above, this solution expands to the time where it bursts the glass bulb and releasing the water beneath the sprinkler.
- There are different types of sprinkler head designs one of which employs a metal plug with a small melting point but with similar basic principles. The heat will melt the metal and open the sprinkler head and spraying the water. A sprinkler is characterized by a flower-pattern diffuser spraying the water in a cone-shaped manner.
- Every sprinkler head joins a pipe that is linked to a water source to the external portion of the building. As the heat stimulates the sprinkler head, the valve opens letting high-pressure water come out. Hence, the water from the sprinkler system has to be kept at constant pressure. This lets the water be sprayed accurately without any reignition.
- Another dry sprinkler system performs by the activated sprinkler head causing the air pressure in the pipes to come down opening the dry pipe valve nearer to the system riser that stores the water. This water comes through the pipe in a pressurized manner via an open sprinkler.
- Sprinkler heads that depend on fusible metals will replace the liquid and glass with 2 metal plates that are placed together with solder and a pre-set melting point. When the area around the sprinkler head reaches the critical temperature, this solder gets melted and the metal plates are pulled towards the side letting the flow of water.
- Depending on the intensity of the fire, only the nearby sprinkler gets activated without affecting other parts. But, if there is a spread of flames, the heat will trigger the nearby sprinklers and control the fire.
Fire Sprinklers Activate Individually:
- People believe that sprinkler systems are connected and get activated all by once. Movies and televisions could be the main culprit as they are triggered by heat and cause the water to damage all the regions. This makes a note that employing the water sprinkler in case of fire would cause water damage which is not the actual case.
- As every individual sprinkler has the process of individual response to heat, the release of water happens only with the ones that are close to the fire. Many fires are controlled only by a single sprinkler head, while others are not disturbed. So, there will be no water damage when there is an activation of fire as the system targets the fire where it is located. Even though there could be some amount of water spilled on few objects, the damage that would be caused otherwise due to fire is worse.
- The response of fire sprinklers can vary depending on the configurations of the complete system. The dry pipe sprinkler system is filled with compressed air and water is stopped by a valve. This compressed air is released when the sprinkler head is opened letting the water flow. Wet pipe systems are simpler and have a quick response in comparison. These systems are mostly preferred way of water sprinkler systems until some unavoidable means do not let the system be filled with water. This is true in some situations like water getting freeze in extremely cold times making it ineffective.
Major types of fire sprinkler:
- There are two types of fire sprinklers mainly fast response and standard response sprinklers. The main difference between the two is the bulb size. Standard response sprinklers have thicker bulb than fast response sprinklers. The thinner glass bulb breaks fast than the thick ones when it comes in contact with heat sources.
- Standard response fire sprinklers are generally employed in factories, storage houses, and other commercial structures. They will pre-wet the things around the flames by spraying the fuel source and either eliminating the fire or controlling the root cause until the larger fire control system arrives.
- Fast response sprinklers are generally placed in crucial or high-risk places like schools, homes, office structures, etc. They have the same fire-control advantages as the standard sprinkler, their main aim is to enhance the chances of saving lives of humans in case of fire. These systems release the water more responsively on the ceiling to cool it avoid flash-overs.
The fire sprinkler system needs to be installed properly and tested regularly to ensure it is functioning properly to safeguard the residents and property. Experienced service and installation from Protek FS will ensure to keep your commercial and residential fire sprinkler systems working in optimal condition.