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FAQ: Fire Sprinklers

 

Not sure where to start with your fire sprinkler search? Here is a break down of what you need to know to make an informed decision regarding the safety and protection of your business’s fire sprinkler system.

What kind of sprinkler system do I have?

There are five general types of fire sprinklers:

1. Automatic

The automatic fire sprinkler system is the most widely used fire protection system today. It works by applying the right amount of water in the right place (the base of the fire) at the right time (as fast as possible). Traditionally, hazard systems were fed directly from town mains, but now, automatic water tanks and pumps are taking their place to guarantee adequate water flow and pressure.

2. Wet

A wet fire sprinkler system system is constantly charged with water under pressure that holds the fire sprinkler valve in a closed position. As a fire sprinkler head is activated, water instantly flows directly to the fire. A wet fire sprinkler system is commonly installed in areas where the ambient temperature is above 40 degrees F.

3. Dry

As opposed to the wet system, the dry fire sprinkler system is constantly charged with compressed air that holds the fire sprinkler valve in closed position. When a fire sprinkler head is activated, the air pressure dissolves and the valve opens so water can flow into the system and onto the fire. A dry fire sprinkler system is commonly installed in areas where the ambient temperature cannot be maintained above 40 degrees F, where a freeze risk is possible.

4. Pre-Action

A pre-action sprinkler system combines an electrical and mechanical detection system that is charged with compressed air. Sprinkler pipes are only filled with water upon activation of a detection system to avoid accidental water damage. A pre-action fire sprinkler system is commonly installed in high-risk areas such as data processing facilities or cold storage warehouses.

5. Deluge

A deluge system is also a combination of an electrical and mechanical detection system, but fire sprinkler heads are open and the pipe is not pressurized. When the detection system is activated, water discharges through all of the sprinkler heads in the system.  A deluge fire sprinkler system is commonly installed in high-risk areas such as power plants, aircraft hangars, and chemical storage or processing facilities.

And now that we’ve covered what kind of system you may own, here are few commonly asked questions about the different systems and components. 

How are fire sprinkler heads rated?

  • Each fire sprinkler head is rated by degree, depending on its application. For example, if a fire sprinkler head is rated for 155 degrees, if the surrounding area temperature reaches 155 degrees the bulb will burst and engage the sprinkler system.

How do I know my sprinkler system works?

  • The laws set forth by your local fire department and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) protect you by making sure that all fire related systems are tested at regular intervals to ensure proper operation.

Does the system need to be inspected?

  • Yes. In most jurisdictions, sprinkler systems require a minimum of one inspection annually.

Should I have my system tested?

  • Yes.  Your local fire department will notify you when and how often this should be done.  The minimum testing of a standard fire sprinkler system is annually and the maximum is weekly.

What is a backflow device?

  • A backflow device is used to prevent polluted or contaminated water from entering the clean water supply due to a back pressure or back siphon situation like a water main burst. 

Who can test my backflow?

  • Only licensed and certified backflow testers can inspect backflow devices.

How often should my backflow be tested?

Do you have a specific question that is not addressed here? We’d be happy to help! Remember, knowing the basics of your fire protection needs is important and will help reduce your risk for loss. Please give us a call directly or shoot us an email with your inquiry.