Think fire is something that happens to other people? Think again.
Fires are more common than most people realize. It takes very little to start a bad one. Some faulty wiring in the house, just a few moments of inattention with a stove burner or a candle, or an overloaded power strip could be enough to start a fire. And if you don't have a fire sprinkler system installed, it could lead to tragedy.
Across the country during the course of this day in homes without a fire sprinkler system,
- 180 serious home fires will start.
- Fire Brigades will respond to 2,880 fire alarms.
- Forty-four people will be hurt in a fire.
- Two people will die as a result of fire.
In fact, the risk of fire in the home is so high, there's a one-in-five chance YOU will experience a serious fire in your lifetime. And if there is no fire sprinkler system in your home, that's a one-in-five chance you will suffer a serious risk to your safety.
But We've Installed Fire Alarms-So
We're Safe, Right?
Fire alarms are good safety precautions-everyone should have them installed. But there are some serious problems with relying on fire alarms alone, without a fire sprinkler system, to keep you safe from fire.
1. Fire alarms run out of batteries
If you forget to change the batteries-and a fire starts at the wrong time-you could have no warning at all.
2. Fire alarms don't wake you up immediately
Loud as they are, it can take several minutes for a fire alarm to wake a person completely from a sound sleep. Those few minutes are all a fire needs to spread out of control without a fire sprinkler system-and make escape impossible.
3. Fire alarms do nothing to control a fire
They warn you of a fire starting, true-but a fire alarm can't put the fire out the way a fire sprinkler system can. Once you're awake, you're on your own.
That's the bad news. The good news is this: you can control a fire-automatically-at the point of origin. You can stop fires before they get too big to manage. And you can keep your family over 99% safe from all house fires-even while you sleep.
To do it, you need a fire sprinkler system.
Why Is A Fire Sprinkler System So Effective?
A fire sprinkler system works better than any other fire prevention system on the market today. The reason is simple: it stops fires before they get too big.
A fire can rage out of control in the time it takes you to read this paragraph. But a fire sprinkler system is activated the moment the heat in the room rises to a threshold level-which could be within seconds. A fire sprinkler system douses the fire in water, effectively smothering it before it has a chance to spread.
Fire sprinkler systems protect your home in other ways, as well. Most people who die as a result of fire don't actually burn to death. They die of suffocation from smoke inhalation. Fire sprinkler systems are the only fire protection device that cuts through the smoke, weighing down larger smoke particles before they have a chance to rise. This lessens smoke thickness, making it easier to breathe.
That's why nobody has yet died as a result of fire in a U.K. home with a fire sprinkler system installed.
The Nuts And Bolts:
How A Fire Sprinkler System Works
Fire sprinkler systems are hooked up to water pipes in your ceiling and walls. The network of water pipes is either filled with water at all times, or hooked up to your water main or a storage tank via a water pump or valve.
The sprinklers themselves are installed on your ceilings or sometimes high on the walls.
Each sprinkler in the fire sprinkler system is fitted with a glass bulb containing gases and liquids that expand under heat, or with a fusible link with seals that melt upon contact with high heat.
When a fire starts, it sends a plume of hot air toward the ceiling. This expands the contents of the glass bulb. When the gases get hot enough, the glass bulb breaks. In the case of the fusible link, the heat melts the seals on the links. This releases a valve connected to the water pipes in the ceiling, dousing the fire with water. The glass bulbs and link seals are often designed to break at a specific temperature-usually around 68°C.
The droplets released by the fire sprinkler system are strictly controlled to be large enough to penetrate the core of the fire without evaporating. They bring the temperature inside the fire down below sustainable levels. As a result, the fire goes out quickly before it has a chance to spread to different areas of the house.
Why Many Don't Install A
Fire Sprinkler System : Common Misconceptions
There's a lot of misinformation out there about the fire sprinkler system that keeps people from installing them-sometimes with tragic results. Here are a few of the more common ones.
If a sprinkler senses heat, the whole fire sprinkler system will go off-causing expensive water damage. Not true. Most fire sprinkler systems on the market today are designed so that each sprinkler head activates individually. The only sprinkler that goes off in case of a fire is the one directly above the fire-keeping fire and water damage to a minimum.
A fire sprinkler system can get tripped accidentally, causing expensive water damage. Actually, it's practically impossible to "accidentally" set off a fire sprinkler system. The sprinkler system is activated by concentrated heat alone-the kind of heat you get from a fire, not a sweltering day in July. This makes it very difficult to trip the system inadvertently. And it's been estimated that only one in sixteen million fire sprinkler systems have manufacturing defects-so it's very doubtful that your system will malfunction in this way.
A fire sprinkler system is prohibitively expensive to install. Installing a sprinkler system in your home will cost about as much as installing new carpeting. More expensive than a few smoke alarms, true-but much more effective protection.
A fire sprinkler system needs huge amounts of water to work effectively. This is not the case. A sprinkler system typically uses a fraction of the water fire fighters use to put a fire out. A single sprinkler can take out most home fires by itself. By the time the fire department arrives at a burning home, the fire has usually grown to much larger proportions-and so thousands of litres of water are needed to control it.
Fire alarms and a good escape plan are all you need to survive a fire. It's a common myth that a fire alarm alone can protect your family from fire. Actually, a fire alarm is not as reliable as a fire sprinkler system. 14% of fire alarms may fail to sense a fire at the critical moment. Compare that to the fire sprinkler system record: it's estimated that only one in 500,000 will fail to go off in case of a fire.
Those sprinkler heads will look unsightly on my ceiling. Today's residential fire sprinkler system designs blend in. Recessed and semi-recessed sprinkler heads are widely available, as well as special caps that cover the recess and are attached with a special resin that will melt and drop off the sprinkler in case of a fire. Sprinkler heads and covers come in a wide variety of colours to match your ceiling, and most manufacturers will custom-paint them on request.
Types Of Fire Sprinkler System :
Which One Is Right For You?
There are several different types of system on the market, and each is designed for a different situation. These three types are the most common fire sprinkler system types found in homes:
The wet-pipe fire sprinkler system is most commonly recommended for residential buildings. With a wet-pipe fire sprinkler system, water is constantly flowing through the pipes that connect to the sprinkler heads. This allows for the most efficient access to water in case of a fire. However, wet-pipe fire sprinkler systems are not practical in areas of the world where the temperature drops below freezing, especially in buildings that go without heat for any period of time, because the pipes can freeze and burst.
The dry-pipe fire sprinkler system has pipes filled with compressed air, connected to a water main or storage tank with a valve that keeps the water out of the pipes. When a fire activates the sprinkler heads, there is a drop in pressure that causes the water to flow into the pipes and out through the sprinkler heads. Dry-pipe systems tend to be higher-maintenance than wet-pipe systems, but they are recommended in cases where water shouldn't be in the pipes unless there is a fire.
The alternate fire sprinkler system can be filled with water during warm weather, and drained and filled with compressed air for the winter. These systems are useful in climates where there are harsh winters and the building is not constantly heated.
In addition, the sprinkler heads themselves come in several different designs.
Conventional sprinklers will discharge some water on the ceiling. This is not a bad thing, as it makes the ceiling more fire-resistant in case the fire makes it that far up before being extinguished. This type of sprinkler head is suitable for most homes, and will be installed with most residential fire sprinkler systems.
Upright or Pendant Spray sprinklers aim all water straight down. This type of fire sprinkler system is better for rooms with higher ceilings, as the fire is not likely to reach the ceiling before it is put out by the water in the sprinkler.
Sidewall sprinklers attach to a high point on the wall, and are recommended for use when it's not practical to attach sprinklers in the ceiling. They also come in extended-coverage versions that will spray water over a wider area than a fire sprinkler system with conventional sprinkler heads.
What To Know When Installing
A Fire Sprinkler System
If you're looking into installing a fire sprinkler system, here are a few things to keep in mind.
It's not a do-it-yourself job
A fire sprinkler system should only be installed by a certified professional. You can find a professional fire sprinkler system installation company through the yellow pages or online directories. Never try to do it yourself.
Be sure the company you choose is certified
In the U.K., there are two different companies that certify fire sprinkler system installers. The first is the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB), whose published standards are based on British law. They verify the expertise of fire sprinkler system installers. The second is Bodycote Warringtonfire, which certifies both residential and commercial installers.
Both companies require installers to issue certificates of compliance to the owners of all buildings they have installed a fire sprinkler system in. These certificates prove to insurance companies, local government, and the Fire Brigade that the building's fire sprinkler system has been properly installed.
Make sure the equipment has been tested
Only hardware that has been third-party tested and approved should be used in a fire sprinkler system. Most certified and well-respected installation companies will use third-party-tested components only.
Having a fire-safe home is crucial to the safety and security of your family. Fire alarms, an escape plan, and a fire extinguisher are all good to have-but they can't protect you fully. Only a fire sprinkler system can provide you with full and reliable protection from fire.
A fire sprinkler system can protect your family, preserve your property, and drastically lessen the risk of fire in your home. While installing a fire sprinkler system can be an investment, it will last for decades-and it will prove to be well worth it in terms of your family's safety and your peace of mind.