WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM?
What is the purpose of a fire sprinkler system?
Fire sprinkler systems serve two purposes: property protection and life safety. They are built to keep a fire at a relatively small size and under control, but not necessarily extinguish it.
Economic losses from fire alone is significant. In 2019 in the US alone there were more than $14.8 billion in property damage due to fire. For commercial structures, the loss of the building may be far less significant than the income and jobs that the facility supports. Trickle down economic effects, such as suppliers or tax revenue are also affected by fire.
The second purpose of sprinkler systems is to save lives. The same study by NFPA found that fire departments responded to over 1.2 million fires with over 16,000 civilian injuries and 3,700 deaths. That’s again just in 2019 in the US alone.
Limiting fire growth prevents greater building damage and allows occupants more time to evacuate. A study by NFPA in 2014 showed when a fire sprinkler system was installed in a building there was an 87% reduction in deaths compared to those without sprinkler systems.
Why are sprinkler systems so effective with life safety? Individual sprinklers throughout a building effectively act as heat detectors. When a single sprinkler activates it trips a water flow switch, it contacts remote monitoring stations and often active building fire alarm systems.
These monitored sprinkler systems can then direct dial fire departments or monitoring companies can alert the authorities. Sprinkler activation can also recall elevators, startup smoke control systems, or interact with access and egress control systems. All these interactions can help notify building occupants earlier of the growing danger and give a better chance to reach safety.
I'm Joe Meyer, this is MeyerFire University.