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Fire Sprinkler Design

Fire Sprinkler Design - Specially Suited To Save Lives

A fire could be devastating to a builder, developer, or commercial property owner. And if you don't incorporate a fire sprinkler design and installation into your buildings, you should-because fires are far more common than most people realize. The truth is that it's very easy to start a fire. All it takes is a heat source or spark, some flammable material, and a few minutes of inattention for livelihoods-and lives-to go up in smoke. Following are some of the businesses most at risk of serious fires.


More residential fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else-and it's no different for commercial kitchens. Gas leaks and flammable materials near burning stove rings are all obvious sources of fire in the kitchen. In addition, restaurant fires can result if grill ducts aren't regularly cleaned, grease traps aren't emptied, stove surfaces aren't kept clear of grease and flammable items, or by faulty electrical equipment or frayed cords.

Hotels and hostels

Most hotels and hostels have kitchens-so the fire risk is the same as that for restaurants. In addition, there's all the risk you have at home from people smoking in their rooms, leaving flammable materials next to heaters, frayed electrical cords, malfunctioning light bulbs, etc.-only more of it. Without a fire sprinkler design incorporated into hotel buildings, guests aren't as safe as they think.

Residential developments

More than 72% of those who die in a fire die at home. Residential fires start for many reasons, including incorrect disposal of ashes from cigarettes or fireplaces, worn and frayed electrical cords, malfunctioning electrical appliances, unattended candles or incense, or flammable materials left near a heater. Apartment buildings can be high risk because of the higher volume of people living there-each one capable of unintentionally starting a fire. If you don't have a fire sprinkler installed into your apartments or developments, you're putting your tenants and buyers at risk.


Schools are frequently targeted for arson by delinquent youth. Just in the Hampshire region, arson caused £5 million in damages when 25 area schools were deliberately set on fire. More and more schools are incorporating fire sprinkler design-which controls arson fires the moment they're set. Schools without a fire sprinkler design are very vulnerable to arson.

Return to Top HMO's and care homes

The occupants of these facilities are at particular risk when a fire starts. The elderly and disabled cannot move quickly unassisted to get away from a fire, and some with mental disabilities may be resistant to leaving the building in case of a fire. Tragic HMO fires have led the Scottish fire chief to call for mandatory fire sprinkler design installed in Scottish HMO's and care homes.

The Basics Of Fire Sprinkler Design

When considering fire sprinkler design for any building, it's important to follow the following steps:

1. Determine the fire hazard level in the building

Every building should be classified for fire risk under the following categories: light hazard, ordinary hazard group 1, ordinary hazard group 2, extra hazard group 1, or extra hazard group 2. Factors involved in classifying a building's hazard level include the material used in construction, the occupancy level, the materials stored in the building, the processes performed in the building (and whether these processes include flammable liquids), ceiling heights, ease of egress, and the amount of floors and rooms.

2. Determine the design area and design density

The design area is a theoretical space within the building that's designated as the worst possible place where a fire can break out. Once determined as the highest risk area in the building, this area's risk level is usually applied to the entire building. Once that's done, determine the amount of water per square meter would be needed to put a fire out in the design area. The calculations should be done in liters of water per minute. This will help you determine the type of sprinkler heads, fire sprinkler design, and amount of water pressure you'll need.

3. Determine which fire sprinkler installation and design will best meet your needs

You'll need to find a fire sprinkler design that can deliver the amount of water per square foot required to put out a fire in your design area. Doing this entails complex calculations that account for the initial water pressure, as well as reductions or elevations to it due to friction in the pipes, momentum from the speed the water travels, and the difference in elevation between the water pump and the sprinkler heads. Nowadays, these calculations are often performed by computer software-although fire sprinkler installation professionals are still required to learn to do them by hand as part of their certification.

Types Of Fire Sprinkler Installations

When designing your fire sprinkler system, you have a lot of choices. Here are a few of the more common ones. The hazard levels they are appropriate for can vary, depending on the height and size of the building and other factors that can affect water pressure, but this list includes some examples of building types these fire sprinkler designs are generally appropriate for.

Control Mode Sprinklers are the standard fire sprinkler design. These stop a fire from spreading by dumping water directly on the fire when it starts, lowering its core temperature to the point where the fire can no longer sustain its heat. This fire sprinkler design also "pre-wets" flammable material adjacent to the fire.

Suppression Sprinklers are specially suited to work quickly and handle fast-growing and challenging fires. Instead of pre-wetting the area as the control mode fire sprinkler design does, the suppression sprinklers release a deluge of water directly on the core of the fire-lowering the temperature quickly and efficiently. This fire sprinkler design is often preferred in buildings containing highly flammable materials, as they quickly stop an already-severe fire from growing.

Fast-Response Sprinklers work more quickly than other designs. In some areas, this is the required fire sprinkler design for light-hazard occupancies.

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Water Mist Sprinklers are often used on offshore oil drilling rigs and ships, as well as in areas where water damage is a special concern. Unlike many fire sprinkler designs which extinguish solely by removing the heat from a fire, the water mist fire sprinkler design attacks a fire on two fronts: its warmth and its oxygen supply. It does not douse the area, which is better for rooms containing water-sensitive equipment.

Instead of spraying water, water mist sprinklers spray high-pressure mist, which is converted to steam when it encounters the heat from the fire. When converting to steam, the mist water droplets deplete the oxygen supply in the room, effectively suffocating the fire. In addition, the water mist is a powerful cooling agent and blocks the fire's radiant heat, dropping its temperature and keeping it from spreading.

Residential Sprinklers are specially designed to protect people in the room of origin from being injured by a fire. This fire sprinkler design is often the best choice for residential developers and landlords.

Decorator Sprinklers, sometimes called concealed sprinklers, can be designed to blend in with the ceiling so as not to be visible. This fire sprinkler design can come in custom colors, and the sprinkler head is typically recessed. A cap is placed over the recess and colored to match the ceiling. The glue used to attach it will dissolve in case of a fire, dropping off and exposing the sprinkler head. These are often the fire sprinkler design of choice in homes.

Extended Coverage Sprinklers are designed so that each sprinkler head covers a wide area-and limits the amount of sprinkler heads needed to protect a building. This fire sprinkler design is also useful in areas with lots of flammable material, as the wide footprint for each sprinkler head will "pre-wet" surrounding materials in case of a fire. These can be installed with a residential, quick-response, or standard design.

Low-Pressure Sprinklers are designed to handle fire protection needs in tall buildings where water pressure may be reduced in the upper floors. This fire sprinkler design is often used in skyscrapers and tall tenement buildings. Using this fire sprinkler design can be more cost-effective than other designs. It will also reduce pipe size and reduce the need for a fire pump.

Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) Sprinklers are designed to control fires that start in storage areas piled high with flammable materials. They are typically used in high-risk storage facilities.

Wet-Pipe or Dry-Pipe are two versions of fire sprinkler design you can install. With a wet-pipe system, the water is constantly running through the pipes. This is the most common type of system, and is most typically found in residential buildings that are constantly heated. With a dry-pipe fire sprinkler design, the pipes are filled with compressed air, and hooked up to the water source via a pump or valve. When a sprinkler head is activated, the valve is tripped and water floods the pipes. This system is more difficult to maintain than a wet-pipe fire sprinkler design, but it is ideal for buildings that are not constantly heated, as they protect pipes from bursting.

Developers: What's In It For You

If you're a developer, you have a choice: incorporate a fire sprinkler design into your buildings, or don't. If you don't, you'll probably meet all the fire codes of your area anyway, and your development will be perfectly legal. But if you do, you will probably save a few lives.

But feeling good about your decision isn't the only benefit of installing fire sprinklers in your development. Here are just a few other perks you'll see if you make the decision to have fire sprinklers installed:

Return to Top Your dead-end streets can be longer

Length of dead-end streets is usually regulated for fire safety reasons. If all your buildings incorporate fire sprinkler design, you'll be permitted to have longer dead-end streets-making it possible to add more units.

Your streets can be narrower

Traffic lanes in developments are usually required to be wide enough to allow free access to fire trucks. If you incorporate fire sprinkler design in your buildings, there will be less of a need for fire trucks-and you'll probably be allowed to install narrower streets and bigger lots.

You can incorporate tee turnarounds

These turnarounds give you access to cul-de-sacs, making it possible to fit more units into your space. They are usually restricted under fire safety codes. Unless, of course, you install sprinklers.

You can build steeper streets

You won't have to worry as much about easy access for fire trucks if you incorporate fire sprinkler design in your buildings, giving you greater flexibility in designing your streets.

Your hydrants can be spaced farther apart

This gives you more parking space on your streets, which will definitely be popular with buyers. You may also be able to reduce your needs in regard to supply mains.

Your buildings can be farther from the road

Because it won't be as crucial for fire hoses to reach your buildings, you can set your units farther from the road. The added privacy and garden space is likely to increase the value of your units.

You'll need less water

Fire sprinklers use only about a hundredth of the water used by the fire brigade to extinguish a fire. With fire sprinkler design incorporated into your buildings, you won't need to make available all the water the fire department needs to extinguish a fire-meaning you may not have to expand the existing water supply.

You can build additional units

This varies depending on your particular development and area, but many developments see an average of 10% to 20% increase in the number of units they can install.

Your insurance premiums will go down

Insurance companies love it when builders incorporate fire sprinkler design in their units. If you incorporate fire sprinkler design in your homes, expect at least a 10%-15% decrease in premiums.

Your homes will be worth more

The added safety of your units will give you a powerful unique selling point that will appeal to customers. Families are willing to pay for the extra safety provided when you incorporate fire sprinkler design.

The bottom line is this: fire sprinklers give you more room to build. More room means more units. More units mean more money in your pocket. Add in the savings you'll see in insurance payments, as well as the premiums you can charge customers for the safety of fire sprinklers, and you'll find that fire sprinklers pay for themselves long before you actually have a fire.

And if you do have a fire, you'll experience on average 90% less damage in a sprinklered building than in one without sprinklers. And chances are, you'll save a few lives as well. When you take all these things into consideration, you'll see that fire sprinklers are easily worth the cost to install. They're not just a fire safety measure-they're an excellent investment in your property.

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