SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

Fire sprinkler systems are important for fire safety in the workplace as they are an active fire suppression system. This means that they are detrimental in the detection stage and automatic dousing of a fire if one is ignited in the building. These sprinkler systems require a constant supply of water and water pressure to ensure that they are able to provide proper fire protection when activated, by completing the intended function of extinguishment in the event of a fire. To make sure that these functions occur correctly, the sprinkler systems need to be regularly tested and serviced.

There are 4 main types of fire sprinkler systems, talk to one of our fire safety consults to find out which one best suits your building and business requirements:

Type 1: Wet Pipe

A wet-pipe sprinkler system is the fastest reactor to a fire it constantly has water in the pipes. The heat from a fire will trigger the heat detecting glass or bulb to shatter, immediately dispensing the water in the pipes.

The downside with this type of systems is that the water held in the pipes may freeze if exposed to colder temperatures, potentially causing burst water pipes and water damage. This system is only to be installed in buildings where the temperature can constantly be maintained year-round at above freezing level.

Type 2: Dry Pipe

A dry sprinkler system works by holding pressured air instead of water in the pipes. Water is suppressed in the sprinkler riser by the pressurized air and cannot be released until all of the air has passed. It is released when the glass heat detecting bulb shatters, causing an imbalance in pressure making the air release and the sprinkler riser valve to open. This them allows the water to dispense and extinguish the fire.

The dry pipe systems air and water pressure must be assessed every week. This is to make sure that when the system is activated the water is able to reach the furthest sprinkler head within sixty (60) seconds or less.

Type 3: Deluge

A deluge sprinkler system is different from both the wet and dry pipe systems as all of the sprinkler heads are constantly open. A deluge valve is stalled at the beginning of the row of sprinkler heads and when a detector senses heat, smoke or flames (depending on which detector is installed) a signal is sent to the valve. The valve will then open and dispense water from all the linked sprinkler heads that are open. This type of system is used when a large volume of water will be needed to contain a fire. For example, this system will be best for aircraft hangers, power plants, factories, chemical stores, etc.

Type 4: Pre-Action (single and double interlock)

If a wet pipe sprinkler system is accidentally activated in areas that store sensitive equipment or stock such as libraries, museums of computer rooms, it would be in the best interest to install an Interlock system. This can allow for an alternative extinguishment method, such as a fire extinguisher or hose reel, to be used before the sprinkler system is activated.

Single Interlock

A single interlock system is installed where the damage to an automatic sprinkler head or piping would have serious water damage. This type of system is used to protect properties with value, such as libraries, museums, and archives, where a pre-alarm of a possible fire would allow time to access an alternative method of extinguishment. If the fire cannot be contained and put out then the pre-action sprinklers will be activated.

Double Interlock

Double interlock systems are specifically designed for sites that require maximum protection against a possible accidental activation of its sprinkler system. For example, this system would be best used for refrigerated stores or computer rooms. For this system to be activated, two independent events must happen. There must be a loss of pressure to the air in the piping because of an opened sprinkler head and then the deluge releasing panel must be energised and the solenoid valve (used to dose, distribute or mix fluids) needs to be open due to the operation of the fire detector. The system will only be activated if both the dry pilot actuator and the solenoid valve are opened at the same time. If only the dry pilot is opened, after the sprinkler head has been knocked by a ladder for example, or only the solenoid valve is opened, misuse or accidental use of an electric manual pull station, then an alarm will sound to warn occupants that there is an emergency but the sprinkler system itself will not become active.

Frequently encountered faults include:

While each system may experience their own individual faults, the most frequently encountered

  • Required maintenance is not regularly attended to. This depends on the type of system that you have installed, but as a general rule, most maintenance needs should be conducted monthly.
  • Corrosion; Inside the pipes themselves or around the head of a sprinkler corrosion can cause major problems with the distribution of water when the sprinkler system is activated. This is mostly caused by lack of maintenance.
  • Leaking seals; This can cause damage to surrounding areas by dripping water into the workplace and inhibit the sprinkler from operating properly when activated.
  • Tampered with or knocked sprinkler heads; This can occur during maintenance by accidentally knocking a head with a ladder or if someone has purposefully tampered with it to stop it from functioning correctly, such as closing individual sprinklers.
  • Missing escutcheon plates. These are the plates that cover the gap that is between the sprinkler head and the ceiling.

Contact East Coast Fire and Safety today to discuss with one of our fire safety consultants about what sprinkler system would best suit your business or building when it comes to protecting your assets from damage and defending your workplace from a fire.

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