Three Myths About Fire Sprinklers

There are several myths that surround fire sprinklers. I’m going to start with three. I’ll post more on the subject as time goes on.

1. All sprinklers in a building go off at once – False. Sprinklers are individually activated according to their temperature rating. When the heat from fire in a room near a sprinkler reaches a predetermined temperature the sprinkler will activate and spray water. Only sprinklers that are near a fire will activate.

2. Sprinklers are known for activating for no reason – False. While I can’t say there have never been accidental activations they’re the exception rather than the rule. I’ve read about sprinklers activating as a result of placing unexpected heat sources too close to them. Others have accidentally gone off for other reasons. Usually human error is involved somehow such as bumping them or hanging objects from them. For the most part, sprinklers are very reliable and accidental activation can almost always be blamed on human error.

3. Sprinklers spray huge amounts of water and cause severe water damage – False. Sprinklers discharge a fraction of the amount of water a fire department would use in a typical fire. A typical sprinkler will discharge 15 to 25 gallons per minute depending on the coverage area. Just one hose line from the fire department will discharge 250 gallons per minute.

Look for more myths in the future. If you have any questions or comments drop a note in the comments.

UPDATE: Here’s an example of an accidental activation. [theledger.com]

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