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Fire Sprinkler System FAQs

Posted on: September 24, 2013

How much does a fire sprinkler system cost?

The cost of your building’s fire sprinkler system depends on a number of factors, ranging from the design and pressure requirements of the sprinkler system to whether it is a retrofit or part of a new construction project. Other factors include the type and quantity of flammable materials present in your building and the other types of fire suppression systems you have installed. You may also want to factor in any benefits offered by your insurance company for having a sprinkler system installed. For a detailed answer to the question of how much a fire sprinkler system costs, contact Confires.

Will a fire sprinkler system really help my building?

To give you an idea of how important a well-installed and maintained fire sprinkler system is, consider this: the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has no record of a fire killing more than two people in a completely sprinklered building. On average, fire sprinklers reduce your chance of dying in a building fire, as well as property loss, by one-half to two-thirds.

How do fire sprinkler systems work?

While there are a number of different types of fire sprinkler systems, a wet-pipe system (one of the most common types) works like this:

A small bulb filled with a colored liquid holds back water in a series of hidden pipes. The head from a fire causes that liquid to expand, eventually bursting through the glass of the bulb and releasing the water behind it.

Different colored liquids within the bulb correspond to different activation temperatures:

  • Orange – 135oF
  • Red – 155oF
  • Yellow – 174oF
  • Green – 200oF
  • Blue – 286oF
  • Purple – 360oF
  • Black – 440OF

One major benefit of fire sprinkler heads being activated by heat instead of smoke is that there is little to no risk of accidental discharge where tampering is not involved.

Why do I need a fire sprinkler system in my building?

In addition to being required by many local and state fire codes, NFPA statistics report the average properly loss and risk of fire are reduced by 50 – 66 percent in buildings where well-installed and maintained fire sprinklers are present. Broken down by industry, civilian deaths in sprinklered buildings between 1989 – 1998 were reduced by:

  • 60 percent for manufacturing properties
  • 74 percent for store and offices
  • 75 percent for nursing homes
  • 91 percent for hotels and motels

Average property damage caused by fires in hotels or motels was 56 percent less in structures with fire sprinkler systems than without.

The numbers above tell a compelling story. Fire sprinkler systems save money and save lives.

You can read more about the NFPA requirements here »

What factors affect fire sprinkler system design?

Fire hazard level – every building has a fire hazard classification level:

  • Light hazard
  • Ordinary hazard group 1
  • Ordinary hazard group 2
  • Extra hazard group 1
  • Extra hazard group 2

The hazard level will affect calculations for the size and design of your fire sprinkler system. Factors involved in determining a building’s fire hazard level include construction material, occupancy level, materials stored within the building, processes performed in the building, and more. Other factors include ceiling heights, ease of egress, and the total number of floors and rooms.

Design area and density – the “design area” refers to the space within your building that is determined to be the highest hazard classification. Once this area has been determined, the fire sprinkler designer will figure out the amount of water is required to put out a fire in that part of the building – this calculation will serve as the base for the entire rest of the building.

Other building factors – actually selecting the correct fire sprinkler system can be very complicated, requiring a balance of factors such as initial water pressure, pipe friction, momentum, etc. If your fire sprinkler system is being designed by a professional fire services company, they will be able to do all the requisite calculations (with the help of a CAD system).

Learn more about our fire sprinkler installation services »

If you have any additional questions about your fire sprinkler system in New Jersey, Delaware, or Philadelphia, including how often they need to be inspected or tested, call Confires today!

Schedule your fire sprinkler inspection »

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