Which Fire Sprinkler System Is the Right Fit for Your Facility
The concept of sprinklers dates back to the Renaissance, with one of the first designs – and failed attempts – by Leonardo da Vinci. The first successful automated sprinkler system was developed nearly 300 years later and great strides in design have been made since. In the 1800s, fire sprinkler systems were manually operated and used perforated pipes. By the end of the 19th century, an automated system was designed and patented; it is used to date.
An automated system detects fire and then promptly triggers an alarm, discharging water instantly. There are several fire sprinkler systems in the market today, designed to protect specific assets. Property owners can freely shop for a fire sprinkler system of their choice, but finding the best solution for their space requires help from fire protection experts like Keystone Fire Protection Co. The following is a highlight of these modern systems from professional fire protection experts in Philadelphia.
1. Wet pipe sprinklers
This type is one most people think of when they hear “fire sprinkler system,” likely due to their commonality. They are used by most property owners to ensure that their buildings stay safe from fire destruction. The water remains contained in the pipes and is activated when smoke or fire is detected. Unlike how they operate in movies, wet sprinkler heads do not all go off at once; rather, they are individually activated above the direct heat source. The benefits of these wet pipe sprinklers include the following:
• Easy to modify
• Installation and maintenance cost is low
• Reliable and simple
2. Dry pipe sprinklers
These sprinklers are used where freezing conditions below 40 degrees Fahrenheit are possible, perfect for parking garages, refrigeration storage, loading docks, or attics. Where a wet system is constantly filled with water, a dry system consists of nitrogen or pressurized air that is maintained inside the pipes. The compressed air holds a dry pipe valve closed, holding back water from entering the pipe until heat activates one or more sprinkler heads. One key benefit of a dry sprinkler system is avoidance of frozen pipes, which could lead to larger, more expensive problems like leaks or freeze breaks. However, these systems are complex compared to wet pipe systems, and can come at a higher cost.
3. Pre-action sprinklers
This sprinkler system is used in areas that require minimal water damage, places with high value assets. Pre-action sprinkler systems operate similarly to dry pipe in that they contain nitrogen and air that is maintained in a pressurized environment. The key difference is the type of valve that holds the water back; in a pre-action system, this valve is controlled electronically.
There are two types of pre-action sprinkler systems: single and double interlock. In single interlock, activation occurs with the release of the detection system. The nitrogen and air are maintained by the system, and it does not leak unless there is system activation.
In double interlock, the sprinkler system only releases water when two events occur in any order. First, a system device must activate. Second, a change in air pressure happens due to operation of a sprinkler head (like what happens in a dry system). When one event occurs, the pre-action valve assumes a preset position. When the second event occurs, the pre-action valve opens, and water enters the system. Water will not enter the system until both events occur. The advantage is that you can install this system in sub-zero environments. In addition, there is protection against any accidental discharge due to the two modes that need to be activated before it works.
4. Foam water sprinkler systems
This sprinkler system is used in places that have hazardous commodities, including flammable liquids or other chemicals. Foam mixed with water blankets the fire, smothering the oxygen needed to continue burning.
Depending on the hazard you are trying to protect and the type of facility – airplane hangar versus marina versus manufacturing facility, etc. – there are different foams to use per application. The experts at Keystone can help determine if low, medium, or high expansion form is best. For burning spills, low expansion would be the foam of choice. For enclosed spaces that must be quickly filled, high expansion foam is ideal.
Implementing the right sprinkler system for your facility makes all the difference in protecting your people and property. Working with fire sprinkler system experts like the designers, installers, and technicians at Keystone can help you meet your life safety needs, budget, and local code requirements.
We make Life Safety Simple. Let’s get started on your sprinkler project. Send an email to [email protected] or talk to an expert today through our Life Safety Lifeline Live Chat or by calling 888-641-0100.