Fire Sprinkler Activation – Video and Transcript

Video explaining the benefits of fire sprinklers and detailing how fire sprinklers work.

The benefits of a sprinkler system have been well known for a number of years. The beauty of them is it is like having your very own fire fighter in the house. What a sprinkler system will do is it will detect the fire, it will raise the alarm should a fire break-out and it will also start tackling the fire.

With an increased awareness of fire safety in domestic and residential properties and with campaigns being initiated across the UK and in many countries around the world the installation of automatic fire sprinklers in this class of building is on the increase.

But what is a domestic and residential sprinkler system?

Typically it is a series of heat sensitive sprinkler heads, connected by a network of hydraulically calculated pipes, fed by various types of water supply and linked to a fire alarm panel and sounders. Contrary to popular myth only one heat activated head in the immediate area of a fire will activate.

There are a number of different types of domestic sprinkler systems. The most popular are:

Mains fed, where by the system is connected directly to an incoming mains supply having sufficient pressure and flow as require by the British standard and sprinkler head manufactures.

Tank fed, which is a system utilising a storage break tank and pump, with adequate storage and pumping capability to deliver the water at the required pressure and flow of the sprinkler heads for a minimum period as indicated by the British Standard and the Local Authority.

Pressurised storage vessels enabling the use of a mist sprinkler head that requires far less water therefor reducing storage space. This system can be self-contained as it is not reliant on electricity or water supplies in order to operate.

Adrian Brown of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service explains in principle how sprinklers operate.

In the event of a fire breaking out, at about 57 degrees centigrade the metal base plate will fall away exposing the sprinkler head. There is a small glass bulb in there and at about 67 degrees centigrade the glass bulb breaks allowing the water to flow, creates a spray, and then it either extinguishes or controls the fire. So only the sprinkler that is in the area of the fire will operate. Research shows that 90% of fires are controlled with only one sprinkler head activating.

For a fire to burn it needs 3 elements, heat, oxygen and fuel this is known as the fire triangle and by removing any one of these sides you can control or extinguish the fire. The sprinklers work by removing one of these elements from the fire. Mist systems work on a similar principle however a mist systems is able to attack all three sides of the fire at the same time. Water mist droplets being a finer spray have a much larger surface area per litre of water. This aids faster cooling, scrubs toxins from the smoke, and is far more effective in smothering a fire. Mist is by far more effective at blocking radiant heat through the emission of a denser spray pattern, and will use less water which has the obvious benefits with storage capacity and damage limitation.

I have seen sprinkler systems working in houses and I am absolutely convinced that they are the answer. You can have all the fire preventative measure that you like in terms of materials, the fire service can do their best to get to you within their prescribed times, but fire kills quickly and it is not just flames it is the smoke.


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