Frequently Asked Questions
Have you ever wondered how a fire sprinkler works or why they are important?
In most settings where there is a municipal water supply, sprinklers operate off the household water main. When the water supply is a well, or there is not enough water pressure, a holding tank is used. Sprinklers are linked by a network of piping, typically hidden behind walls and ceilings. The high temperature of an early-stage fire (135-165 degrees, Fahrenheit) will cause the sprinkler to activate. Only this high heat initiates the sprinkler to flow water (neither smoke nor a smoke alarm can activate a fire sprinkler). Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will operate, flowing water directly on the flames int he area of the fire's origin.
This quick action controls or extinguishes the flames (often before the fire department arrives). Fire sprinklers slow the spread of deadly heat and toxic smoke, preventing flashover. This also provides residents with more time to safely escape.
Water damage from a home sprinkler system will be much less severe than the damage caused by water from fire-fighting hose lines or smoke and fire damage if the fire goes unabated. Quick response sprinklers release 8-24 gallons of water per minute compared to 50-125 gallons per minute released by a firehose.
Sprinkler heads are individually activated by fire. Residential fires are usually controlled with one sprinkler head. 90% of all fires are controlled with six or fewer heads and a study conducted in Australia and New Zealand covering 82 years of automatic sprinkler use found that 82% of the fires which occurred were controlled by two or fewer sprinklers.
Smoke detectors save lives by providing a warning system but can do nothing to extinguish a growing fire or protect those physically unable to escape on their own, such as the elderly or small children. Too often, battery operated smoke detectors fail to function because the batteries are dead or have been removed. As the percent of homes in America that were "protected" with smoke detectors increased from zero to more than 70%, the number of fire deaths in homes did not significantly decrease.
Sprinklers provide a high level of life safety. Statistics demonstrate that there has never been any multiple loss of life in a fully sprinklered building. Property losses are 85% less in residences with fire sprinklers compared to those without sprinklers. The combination of automatic sprinklers and early warning systems in all buildings and residences could reduce overall injuries, loss of life, and property damage at least 50%.