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What is a Fire Sprinkler System?

Whether you see them or not, fire sprinkler systems are there to help and prevent a disastrous fire from breaking out. Just as a smoke detector is essential for a home, a sprinkler system is a vital piece of equipment for commercial and industrial buildings.

Did you know that we owe our thanks to Leonardo da Vinci for creating the sprinkler system back in the 15th century? And in 1723, Ambrose Godfrey developed the first automated sprinkler system, which used gunpowder to release fluids that would extinguish the flames. Jump to 1812, the first modern sprinkler system that we recognize today was installed in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in the United Kingdom, by William Congreve. Over the next century, the sprinkler system underwent many enhancements to create the current model we use.

It doesn’t matter what size your business is, you should have a fire sprinkler system installed. They help prevent the spread of a fire and can extinguish a fire altogether. Although these systems are not federally mandatory, your local jurisdiction and building codes may require you to have one. Check with the fire protection companies in Toronto to make sure your business is up to code.

What is a Fire Sprinkler System?

A fire sprinkler system is a method of fire protection and the prevention of the fire spreading. Typically, the system contains pressurized water. The heat of the fire would trigger the system and release the water into the room below.

Fire sprinkler systems were originally used in industrial settings. However, as they grew in popularity and it became more apparent how important they are to fire safety, owners of commercial buildings began to install them, as well. We now see fire sprinkler systems installed in residential houses as another method of fire protection.

There are many advantages to having a fire sprinkler system installed, the most notable one being, that it prevents a fire from spreading and ultimately engulfing an entire building. Because the system works to extinguish the fire completely, it reduces the chance of anyone getting harmed by the flames. Additional advantages include:

  • Reduced property damage from extinguishing the fire.
  • Possible insurance savings for fire protection.
  • Use less water than a fire hydrant.

As with almost anything, there will be a few disadvantages to having a fire sprinkler system installed. One major point being the potential property damage from the water falling onto equipment below. Other disadvantages include the cost of setup and the frequent ongoing maintenance to ensure the system is working properly. However, the advantages of the system far outweigh the disadvantages.

Types of Fire Sprinkler Systems

Wet Pipe

Wet pipe fire sprinkler systems are by far the most common and most reliable systems you can install. They are simple to use because there is only one operating component – the automatic sprinkler (often also the automatic alarm check valve).

These systems are made up of steel pipes that contain water (how it gets the name wet pipe). The system is under pressure at all times. Once activated, the system releases the pressurized water immediately. Wet pipe sprinklers have the fastest reaction time.

Dry Pipe

The second most common system is the dry pipe sprinkler. In areas where the temperature could potentially freeze the water in a wet pipe system, which would make the sprinklers inoperable, dry pipe systems would be used instead. There is not water in the pipes at all times (unlike the wet pipe system). Once the fire triggers the sprinklers, then the water begins to flow, causing this system to have a delayed reaction.

You would most likely find dry pipe sprinkler systems in unheated buildings, refrigerated coolers (in a restaurant for example), or in parking garages. If the average temperature is below four degrees Celsius, you would install a dry pipe system.

Deluge

A deluge sprinkler system is similar to the dry pipe, however, the sprinkler heads remain open and there is no pressurized air in the pipes. The water supply comes through a deluge valve that would open through a smoke or heat detection system.

Deluge systems are more common in industrial buildings. Because the danger of rapid fire is significantly higher (due to hazardous materials in the building), the system must disperse the water over a larger area.

Pre-Action

The last system is a pre-action fire sprinkler. Air fills the pipes, but also allows water to pass through if the smoke alarm goes off. You would need two triggers to begin the flow of water. Having the two triggers reduces the risk of accidental activation. Re-action systems are common in places like libraries, data centres, and anywhere else that has high-valued items that would get damaged from the sprinklers.

Maintenance and Repair

Maintenance of a fire sprinkler system is essential to ensure the system works as it is intended. Without regular maintenance, it is hard to know if the system works properly, and you wouldn’t want to find that out when a fire breaks out.

On a weekly basis, you should check the gauges and the control valves of the system. The gauges show the air and water pressure and have a normal read. While checking the control valves, ensure there are no leaks and that they are properly sealed.

Every month, the alarm valves should have an external inspection to ensure there is no broken seals or parts. On a quarterly basis, the alarm devices should be checked for any signs of physical damage. The hydraulic nameplate should also be inspected every three months.

On an annual basis, a licensed technician should inspect the enter sprinkler system. They check the fire sprinkler systems and services and determine any repairs needed to ensure the system is up to code.

Conclusion

A fire sprinkler system is something that every building should have. It can save a business from a lot of damage, and it can even save lives. It’s essential that a fire sprinkler system be added to all industrial and commercial buildings as part of its fire safety plan.

Contact CrownFire services for more information on what system would be best for your building, and for all of your fire sprinkler system maintenance and repair needs.

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