How do fire sprinklers work?

A fire sprinkler system is one of the most effective ways to extinguish a small fire before it causes extensive damage to your commercial building. Current estimates reveal that fire sprinklers save lives and reduce property damage by over 65 percent.

There’s no doubt that automatic sprinklers belong in your fire protection arsenal, but how do fire sprinklers work? We’ll answer your questions here and dispel some misconceptions surrounding fire sprinkler systems.

Fire Sprinklers Detect Heat, Not Smoke

Many people falsely believe that fire sprinklers are set off by smoke. However, if this was the case, something as simple as burned toast could leave you scrambling to shut off the sprinklers. That’s why high heat, not smoke, triggers fire sprinkler heads.

Most sprinkler heads contain a small glass bulb with colored liquid inside. This bulb seals the sprinkler head and prevents water from flowing out. When the liquid heats, it expands and bursts the glass, opening the pipe and allowing water to flow out.

The color of the liquid inside the bulb indicates the temperature required to activate the sprinkler. Different colors are appropriate for a wide variety of settings, from ordinary residential and light commercial buildings to industrial facilities where the ceiling temperature can rise quite high during normal operations. The temperature ratings for different colored bulbs include:

  • Orange: 135 degrees F
  • Red: 155 degrees F
  • Yellow: 174 degrees F
  • Green: 200 degrees F
  • Blue: 286 degrees F
  • Purple: 360 degrees F
  • Black: 4400 degrees F

Because smoke doesn’t set off fire sprinklers, accidental activation from dust or high humidity is impossible. However, there is a risk of a sprinkler head going off if it’s bumped or intentionally tampered with.

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Fire Sprinkler Heads Activate Individually to Douse the Blaze

The goal of a fire sprinkler system is to extinguish the fire while minimizing water damage.

Effective extinguishing requires adequate water pressure. A reliable water source ensures the spray arcs outward to thoroughly douse the blaze and prevent it from reigniting.

To minimize water damage, fire sprinkler heads activate one at a time. This is contrary to what often happens in the movies when every sprinkler in the building goes off at once. However, this isn’t how fire sprinklers work.

In a vast majority of cases, fires are extinguished with the activation of just one or two sprinkler heads, keeping water damage to a minimum. Plus, fire sprinklers extinguish flames using an average of six times less water than a fire hose. Their rapid response time and precisely directed water lead to a faster recovery for your business following a fire.

Fire Sprinkler Installation & Inspection in New Jersey & Delaware

At Confires, we know how fire sprinklers work. If you’re ready to install a fire sprinkler system in your Jersey City, New Jersey or Wilmington, Delaware building, we have you covered. We also perform fire sprinkler inspections and testing to keep your equipment code-compliant. Contact us today at 888-228-0917 to schedule the fire sprinkler services you need!