6 Myths and Misconceptions of Fire Sprinklers
Automatic sprinklers offer a proven method of providing life and property protection. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about how they work. Below are some answers to the most common questions.
1. Does a fire detection system provide enough protection?
Fire detection systems (including domestic smoke alarms) save lives by warning of fire but can do nothing to control or extinguish a growing fire.
2. Water damage from a fire sprinkler system will be more extensive than fire damage
Water damage from a fire sprinkler system will be far less severe than the damage caused by water from firefighters' hoses. Modern sprinklers operate very quickly to release 45 – 200 litres of water per minute, compared to 700 – 4000 litres per minute discharged by fire service hoses and jets.
Sprinkler systems can be connected to an alarm monitoring company, which will contact the fire service immediately, should the alarm go off. Upon arrival, the fire service will take action to minimise water damage.
3. When one sprinkler goes off, won't it all go off?
Only the sprinkler heads near a fire will operate. Research carried out over 20 years shows that 80% of fires are controlled or extinguished by the operation of fewer than six sprinkler heads.
4. Sprinkler systems are not practical in cold climates; the pipes will freeze and cause water damage
The sprinkler installation standards include a range of measures which can be incorporated into systems to prevent low temperatures from impacting the operation of sprinklers should there be a fire.
5. Fire sprinkler systems are expensive to maintain
Sprinkler systems must be inspected, tested, and maintained to ensure high reliability. However, sprinkler systems only need two maintenance visits a year by a contractor. This costs around £500/year for larger systems. Small systems require only an annual visit, costing between £75 and £100.
The low whole-life costs of a fire sprinkler system make investment attractive. Fire sprinkler systems will last the lifetime of a building without significant replacement or refurbishment. The industry claims a service life of around 40 years, but it is well-known that many sprinkler systems from the 1930s are still operational.
6. Are fire sprinkler systems the same as water mist systems?
A water mist system and traditional fire sprinkler systems can work in the same way when it comes to activation when there is a fire; however, the water droplets produced by a water mist system are generally smaller than for sprinklers.
A water mist system is a fixed fire protection system that uses water to suppress or extinguish a fire. The system comprises automatic nozzles attached to a piping system containing water and connected to a water supply. At operation, the water mist system discharges a spray containing small water droplets that fill the protected zone with water mist.
They are unique within the large volumes of industrial buildings. Their use in industrial settings is more directed to specific applications for protecting selected machines, equipment or enclosed volumes. The design of water mist systems is specific to the manufacturer of the water mist system, the manufacturer's testing, and tailored to the application.
Sprinkler systems are usually designed to protect an area or compartment and can be used in larger volumes typical of industrial buildings. The work by delivering water only to the fire location to suppress and control the fire, pre-wetting surrounding combustibles and structures. The design of sprinkler systems is based on standardised components and designs that reflect the hazard to be protected.
PVL Fire Sprinklers
Pressure Vacuum Level Ltd sells high-quality fire sprinklers for various industries.
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