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Sprinkler Systems
 
A fire sprinkler system is a network of fixed water pipes supplied by two water sources with sprinkler heads fitted at recommended distances apart. Water can be supplied from a tank via pumps or from the town mains, providing the flow is sufficient and fills the pipes.

Sprinkler Head Detectors are nozzles directing a jet of water onto a deflector plate which defuses over a large area. The water is held back by a glass bulb or soldered strut which holds a plug in place. When heat is applied from a fire below, the glass bulb will burst, due to expansion of the liquid in the bulb, or the solder will melt, which then releases the plug and water flows through the sprinkler head.

The hot gases from a fire will raise the temperature at ceiling level and when the area adjacent to the head reaches a specific temperature that sprinkler head will actuate and spray water on to a fire. Only the sprinklers over the fire will open and the others will remain closed. This limits any damage to areas where there is no fire and reduces the amount of water needed.

Sprinkler heads can be placed in enclosed roof spaces and into floor ducts to protect areas where a fire can start without being noticed. In a large warehouse sprinklers may be placed in the storage racks as well as the roof.

At the point where the water enters the sprinkler system there is a valve. This can be used to shut off the system for maintenance. For safety reasons it is kept locked open and only authorized persons should be able to close it.

A Pelton Wheel rotates when water starts flowing in the system which in turn operates a warning bell. This way the sprinkler system both controls the fire and gives an alarm using water, not electricity.

Main water shut off valve which allows the system to be closed down when the fire has been extinguished.


For a Fire Sprinkler system to operate properly and successfully deal with a fire, it must be correctly designed, installed and then maintained. It is therefore essential that the system is designed using a specification that has been tried and tested and proved to provide the level of protection desired and the components used have themselves also be tested and approved for use in those systems.

When considering fire sprinkler design for any building, it's important to follow the following steps:

1. Determine the fire hazard level in the building

Every building should be classified for fire risk under the following categories: light hazard, ordinary hazard group 1, ordinary hazard group 2, extra hazard group 1, or extra hazard group 2. Factors involved in classifying a building's hazard level include the material used in construction, the occupancy level, the materials stored in the building, the processes performed in the building (and whether these processes include flammable liquids), ceiling heights, ease of egress, and the amount of floors and rooms.

2. Determine the design area and design density

The design area is a theoretical space within the building that's designated as the worst possible place where a fire can break out. Once determined as the highest risk area in the building, this area's risk level is usually applied to the entire building. Once that's done, determine the amount of water per square meter would be needed to put a fire out in the design area. The calculations should be done in liters of water per minute. This will help you determine the type of sprinkler heads, fire sprinkler design, and amount of water pressure you'll need.

3. Determine which fire sprinkler design will best meet your needs

You'll need to find a fire sprinkler design that can deliver the amount of water per square foot required to put out a fire in your design area. Doing this entails complex calculations that account for the initial water pressure, as well as reductions or elevations to it due to friction in the pipes, momentum from the speed the water travels, and the difference in elevation between the water pump and the sprinkler heads. Nowadays, these calculations are often performed by computer software-although fire sprinkler installation professionals are still required to learn to do them by hand as part of their certification.

Types Of Fire Sprinkler Design

When designing your fire sprinkler system, you have a lot of choices. Here are a few of the more common ones. The hazard levels they are appropriate for can vary, depending on the height and size of the building and other factors that can affect water pressure, but this list includes some examples of building types these fire sprinkler designs are generally appropriate for.

Control Mode Sprinklers
are the standard fire sprinkler design. These stop a fire from spreading by dumping water directly on the fire when it starts, lowering its core temperature to the point where the fire can no longer sustain its heat. This fire sprinkler design also "pre-wets" flammable material adjacent to the fire.

Suppression Sprinklers
are specially suited to work quickly and handle fast-growing and challenging fires. Instead of pre-wetting the area as the control mode fire sprinkler design does, the suppression sprinklers release a deluge of water directly on the core of the fire-lowering the temperature quickly and efficiently. This fire sprinkler design is often preferred in buildings containing highly flammable materials, as they quickly stop an already-severe fire from growing.

Fast-Response Sprinklers
work more quickly than other designs. In some areas, this is the required fire sprinkler design for light-hazard occupancies.
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Water Mist Sprinklers
are often used on offshore oil drilling rigs and ships, as well as in areas where water damage is a special concern. Unlike many fire sprinkler designs which extinguish solely by removing the heat from a fire, the water mist fire sprinkler design attacks a fire on two fronts: its warmth and its oxygen supply. It does not douse the area, which is better for rooms containing water-sensitive equipment.

Instead of spraying water, water mist sprinklers spray high-pressure mist, which is converted to steam when it encounters the heat from the fire. When converting to steam, the mist water droplets deplete the oxygen supply in the room, effectively suffocating the fire. In addition, the water mist is a powerful cooling agent and blocks the fire's radiant heat, dropping its temperature and keeping it from spreading. 
 



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