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Monday, March 18, 2013

Station Life: Fire Sprinklers

Have you ever seen an action movie where the hero needs a diversion to get past a villain, so he pulls the fire alarm or holds a lighter up to a fire sprinkler? In the movies, that is usually enough to set off all the fire sprinkler heads in the whole building.

Chuck Norris doesn’t activate the fire alarm, he makes the building cry!
The simple truth of the matter is that what happens in Hollywood isn’t what happens in reality. Fire sprinklers are a simple yet effective system for limiting damage to a building involved in a fire and giving the occupants a better chance to escape. Each sprinkler head is independent of the others in the system. The only thing that can activate a sprinkler head is direct heat; smoke alone is not capable of setting off the system. This means that pulling a fire alarm pull station or cooking popcorn in the microwave too long are not going to cause system activation.

A Commercial Building Fire Sprinkler Head
A Residential Fire Sprinkler Head
Another common misconception about a fire sprinkler is that it might start to leak over time, or that the water damage from an activated head will be worse than if the fire had been extinguished by the fire department. Lay your fears to rest. Fire sprinklers are no more likely to leak than any of the other plumbing in a home or business. The piping is very similar to what is already running through the walls and ceilings of buildings all across the country. Fire sprinklers also use much less water to extinguish a fire than a firefighter’s hose. Residential fire sprinklers use as little as 15 gallons of water per minute, while Brentwood Fire and Rescue trucks apply a minimum of 200 gallons per minute per hose! That’s more than ten times as much water, not to mention the fact that the fire will have gotten larger before the fire department arrived.

A Trifecta of Protection: A Smoke Detector, a Fire Alarm and a Fire Sprinkler

But how do they work? The videos below will give you a brief overview of a residential fire system.

Brentwood Fire and Rescue has also performed live demonstrations of the effectiveness of sprinkler systems. The video below is from Public Safety Day in 2012. In the video we show how fast fire can grow as well as how effective sprinklers can be in containing the fire and mitigating damage.

Sprinkler systems aren’t just for newly constructed buildings either. Any certified sprinkler installation company can retrofit an existing home or business with a system. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Brentwood Fire and Rescue at (615) 371-0170 or visit .