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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Fire Sprinkler Myths and Facts

Fire sprinklers save lives. That's a fact. Yet there are many myths about fire sprinklers that might prevent installation of this life saver.

This blog article aims to dispel those myths whilst providing facts about fire sprinklers.

If you have any questions after reading this article feel free to contact one of our experienced sales team on UK: 0800 975 7971 or Ireland: 1800 936 556.



Fire Sprinkler Myths and Facts


There's a lot of myths about fire sprinklers that keeps people from installing them. Here are a few of the more common myths.

Myth: When one sprinkler goes off, they will all go off.
Fact: Only the sprinkler heads in the immediate vicinity of a fire will operate. Sprinklers are activated by a rise in temperature so only the sprinkler head closest to the fire will activate. Most fire sprinkler systems 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. Water is sprayed directly on the fire, leaving the rest of the house dry and untouched. When there is a fire, around 85% of the time just one sprinkler is activated.

Myth: Sprinklers may go off accidentally.
Fact: It is 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 and not the smoke from buring the toast. And it's been estimated that only one in 16 million fire sprinkler systems have manufacturing defects - so it's very doubtful that your system will malfunction in this way.

Myth: Home fire sprinklers often leak.
Fact: Fire sprinkler leaks are very rare, and are no more likely than leaks from a plumbing system. A sprinkler is calibrated to activate when it senses a significant heat change. They don’t operate in response to smoke, cooking vapors, steam, or the sound of a smoke alarm.

Myth: Fire sprinklers are expensive to install.
Fact: When installed during new construction, sprinklers cost around 1% to 1.5% of the total build cost. Installing a sprinkler system in your home will cost about as much as installing new carpeting. They are more expensive than smoke alarms, but provide much more effective protection. Retro-fitting a fire sprinkler system in a property or high rise is also very cost effective.

Myth: Fire sprinkler systems are expensive to maintain.
Fact: Sprinklers must be inspected, tested, and maintained to ensure a high degree of reliability. However, fire sprinklers usually only need two maintenance visits a year by a contractor. Fire sprinkler systems will last the lifetime of a building without major replacement or refurbishment. The industry claims a service life of around 40 years, but it is well known that there are many sprinkler systems from the 1930s which are still operational.

Myth: A fire sprinkler system needs huge amounts of water to work effectively.
Fact: 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.

Myth: A smoke alarm provides enough protection.
Fact: Smoke alarms are essential in all properties. They alert occupants to the presence of danger, but do nothing to extinguish the fire as they can only detect smoke. Fire sprinklers detect heat from the fire and automatically control it, saving lives and property. In a fire, sprinklers can control and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive. It's a common myth that a fire alarm alone can protect the occupants from fire. Actually, a fire alarm is often not as reliable as a fire sprinkler system.

Myth: Fire sprinkler heads are unattractive unsightly.
Fact: Many modern sprinkler heads can be flush mounted with walls or ceilings and can be concealed behind decorative covers. Sprinkler heads and covers come in a wide variety of colours to match your ceiling, and most manufacturers will custom-paint them on request.

Myth: Sprinklers are unreliable.
Fact: Every sprinkler head is individually tested: world records show that out of 16 million sprinklers installed every year, only 1 will fail.

Myth: The water damage caused by sprinklers will be more extensive than fire damage.
Fact: Water damage won't kill you. In a fire, sprinklers quickly control heat and smoke. Any water damage from the sprinkler will be much less severe than the damage caused by water from the fire department hoses. Fire departments use up to 10 times as much water to extinguish a home fire as fire sprinklers would use to extinguish the same fire.

Myth: Sprinkler systems are not practical in cold climates as the pipes will freeze and cause water damage.
Fact: With proper installation, sprinklers will not freeze. The sprinkler installation standards include a range of measures which can be incorporated in systems to prevent low temperatures impacting on the operation of sprinklers should there be a fire.

Myth: Newer homes are safer homes.
Fact: In a fire, unprotected lightweight construction used in many modern homes burns quicker and fails faster than traditional materials. New homes can contain modern furnishings made of synthetic materials, resulting in a greater fuel load, faster fire propagation, and a more toxic environment.

Fire Sprinkler Facts Summary


If the above myths and facts aren't enough to convince you of the benefits of sprinkler systems, here is a summary.

  • Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire.
  • 99% of fires are controlled by sprinklers alone.
  • Sprinklers do not go off accidentally, they will only operate if there is an actual fire.
  • Sprinkler heads can be completely concealed so are not unsightly.
  • Sprinkler systems do not need pumps or tanks if mains pressure is adequate.
  • Maintenance costs for fire sprinklers are very low.
  • Sprinklers save lives – and properties – and are the only devices which can detect a fire, sound the alarm, call the fire brigade and extinguish or control the fire.
  • Sprinklers are NOT expensive; normally costing around 1-2% of the cost of construction of a new building.
  • Home fire sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene.
  • Installing both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers reduces the risk of death in a home fire by 82%, relative to having neither.
  • Fire sprinklers use only a fraction of the water used by fire department hoses.
  • Sprinkler systems reduce greenhouse gasses emitted by a burning building by 98%.

You can read more about our CPVC fire sprinkler piping range here.

Have a question? Call our UK FREEPHONE number 0800 975 7971 or our Ireland number 1800 936 556.

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