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Nuts and bolts of Fire Sprinkler System

 
The Nuts And Bolts Of Fire Sprinkler Systems: What Makes Sprinklers So Effective


You may have heard a lot about how effective fire sprinklers are at protecting your home against fire. But why? How do fire sprinklers work so well? It has to do with the inner workings of the fire. In this report, we'll explain how fire sprinkler systems can put out a fire with just one sprinkler head-and protect you against smoke inhalation while they do it.

We'll also talk about two very different commercial buildings: one that is extremely difficult to protect from fire, even with a fire sprinkler system; and one that should never be built without a fire sprinkler system-the consequences of a fire are too great. We'll talk about what makes these two different buildings high-risk in their own ways, and what can be done.

How A Fire Sprinkler System Works

A typical fire sprinkler system contains two main components: the sprinkler heads and the piping. The heads are usually installed on ceilings, and they connect to a network of pipes. The pipes either connect to a water main or storage tank via a valve, or are kept filled with water.

The sprinkler heads are either fitted with a glass bulb containing heat-sensitive liquids or gases, or with a fusible link sealed with a material that melts at a certain temperature.

The moment a fire starts, it sends a burst of heat toward the ceiling. The heat either expands the contents of the bulb, breaking the glass, or melts the seals on the fusible links. This forces water through the sprinkler heads, dousing the fire.

A fire sprinkler system releases droplets big enough to penetrate the centre of the fire without evaporating-the amount of flow-through, water pressure, and size of the droplets are strictly controlled. This lowers the temperature at the fire's core-enough that it can't maintain the heat it needs, and goes out.

A fire sprinkler system is more effective than a brigade of firefighters-at least initially. That's because while it can take the fire department valuable minutes-sometimes even longer-to respond to an alarm, a fire sprinkler system can respond in seconds, putting the fire out before it has a chance to spread.

How Fire Behaves-And What Makes
Fire Sprinklers So Effective

To survive, fires need to eat, breathe, and stay hot. A fire starts when intense heat is concentrated in an area with plenty of oxygen and fuel. A spark from an overloaded power strip, an unattended candle, or flammable materials left too close to a radiator are all common sources of fire in the home.

Fires can't live without fuel, air, and heat. To put out a fire, you need to remove one of those three things. Here's how it works:

  • The fuel

  • If it runs out of fuel, a fire will extinguish on its own. Firefighters sometimes clear a ring around brush fires to keep them controlled.

  • The air

  • Fires can also be contained if they're smothered quickly enough. That's why you can put out a small fire by dropping a blanket over it and stamping it out.

  • The heat

  • Fire can't burn if it gets too cold. Water puts out fire by dropping its core temperature below a certain amount.

    Fire sprinklers work by removing a fire's heat. Fire sprinklers drop water at the core of the fire, extinguishing it before it can burn out of control. And because they work so quickly, the fire is usually controlled before it can do significant damage. That's why fire sprinklers are the mosteffective method of fire prevention you can buy.

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    Why More People Die Of Smoke Inhalation Than Actual Fire - And How
    Residential Fire Sprinklers Protect Against It

    Most people who die in a fire are dead before the fire reaches them. Smoke inhalation often kills by searing the lungs, but not always. Often, smoke causes severe pulmonary irritation-if a fire burns through insulation or other toxic substances, those toxins get into the smoke, and into the victim's lungs. Fire officials estimate that 50%-80% of fire-related deaths are ultimately caused by smoke inhalation.

    Residential fire sprinklers protect against smoke inhalation in several ways. First, residential fire sprinklers typically extinguish a fire before it gets big enough to be dangerous.

    Residential fire sprinklers go into action the minute a fire starts, dumping water on the core of the fire and dropping its core temperature to the point where it can no longer burn. Residential fire sprinklers are usually more effective than a brigade of firefighters, because they work so quickly-by the time firefighters arrive at a burning home, it's often too late.

    However, residential fire sprinklers also protect against smoke inhalation in other ways. As they fall, water droplets attach to particles in the smoke, weighing them down and thinning out the smoke. Smoke from a fire in a sprinkler-protected building is thinner and less lethal-although you should still exit the house immediately if your residential fire sprinkler system is activated.

    Residential fire sprinkler systems are far more effective than any other method of home fire protection. Your chances of survival go up dramatically in homes with residential fire sprinkler systems installed.

    Five Reasons Why Schools
    Need Fire Sprinkler Systems

    We can all agree that school fires are more common than they should be-and the loss of a school can be as devastating for the larger community as for the children and staff. Here are five reasons why your school needs a fire sprinkler system.

    Serious consequences

    Losing a school to fire is a traumatizing experience for children-and for their families. Often, young children feel less safe in school after a fire. Severe fires often destroy all students' grades and teachers' records, which can have lasting consequences.

    Arson

    Schools are particularly vulnerable to arson. Approximately 70% of school fires are deliberate. Most troubling is the recent trend of arsonists setting fires while school is in session-often in rubbish bins, lavatories, and cloakrooms.

    Frequent fires

    Probably because they are such prominent targets for arson, school fires are common. Fire brigades respond to an average of 2,000 fires a year in U.K. schools, causing over £93 million in damages to buildings without fire sprinkler systems.

    Fire sprinkler systems save buildings-and lives

    Fire sprinkler systems have an astonishing record of safety-no fire-related deaths have ever been reported in schools with fire sprinkler systems installed. They'll save your building, too. Schools with fire sprinkler systems typically incur only a few hundred or thousand pounds' worth of fire damage-instead of a few million.

    Big insurance discounts

    Insurance companies often give serious discounts to schools with fire sprinkler systems installed-up to 65% in some cases.

    Fire sprinklers are the safest way to protect against fire-safer even than the fire department. There's no question that schools, above all other non-residential buildings, should never be built without fire sprinklers.

    The Challenge Of Protecting High-Pile
    Storage Facilities From Fire

    High-pile storage facilities are among the most difficult buildings to protect in case of a fire. While hotels, restaurants, and even homes may be more likely to catch fire in the first place, they do not have the special challenges these warehouses have.

    High-pile storage was developed around World War II. Immense warehouses were used to store materials stacked high on racks. Traditional fire sprinklers were not as effective in case of a fire in the stacks, especially if the fire started on one of the lower levels-the storage methods made it difficult for the water to penetrate.

    The difficulty is that it's not realistic to install multiple levels of sprinklers among the racks. Even if this would ensure greater penetration, racks often must be moved and rearranged to accommodate stored materials. Fire sprinklers can't be adjusted along with the racks.

    Large-drop fire sprinklers are one solution. Developed specifically for warehouse fires, the sprinkler heads have larger openings than traditional heads do-allowing larger, heavier drops. These penetrate more effectively, making fewer levels of fire sprinklers possible in warehouses. ESFR systems combine large-drop design with a more heat-sensitive sprinkler head, so the response time to fires is faster than with traditional fire sprinklers.

    High-pile storage facilities are difficult to protect from fire. But there's no question that fire sprinklers are the only effective way to do it. Despite the challenges involved with these facilities, fire sprinklers are still a warehouse owner's best option for safe storage.

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