Automatic fire sprinkler systems are designed to protect buildings against damage resulting from fire. The systems have been used for decades to protect factories, commercial facilities, hospitals, schools and other public buildings against fire. Over the past few years, a growing number of vendors have started making available small, cost-effective fire sprinkler systems for residential buildings as well.
What Is a Fire Sprinkler System?
A fire sprinkler system consists of a water supply system, pipes for distributing the water, and sprinklers for spraying water into a room when a fire is detected. Most sprinklers are installed along the ceiling and are designed to spray water down in certain pre-defined patterns. Some fire sprinklers are designed to suppress fires, while others are designed to control and contain a blaze.
How They Work
Almost all fire sprinkler systems in use currently function automatically. The sprinkler head usually integrates a frangible bulb or a two-part link made from heat-sensitive material. The glass bulb and the two-part metal link are designed to break when the ambient temperature inside a building or a room reaches a certain temperature. This action causes an aperture in the sprinkler head to open, resulting in water spraying into the room at fairly high pressure. Most fire sprinklers operate independently of one another, and are designed to turn on only when the temperature in the immediate area reaches a certain point.
Home Sprinkler Systems
The effectiveness of fire sprinkler systems in commercial buildings is driving a growing number of people to call for its use in residential buildings as well. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, for instance, has proposed that all U.S. homes should be equipped not just with smoke alarms, but automatic fire sprinkler systems as well. According to the USFA, many of the civilian deaths that occur each year in residential fires can be avoided via the use of automatic sprinkler systems.
Low Cost, High Value
Numerous low cost, quick-response fire sprinkler systems are becoming available in the market for use in residential buildings. The systems, many of which are approved for use by Underwriters Laboratories, can be installed by a home alarm company in the US Alarm Companies network while the home is being built, or they can be retrofitted into existing homes.
Home fire sprinkler systems are designed largely to save lives and are somewhat less focused on mitigating property damage. Most such systems are calibrated to respond much more quickly to a fire than commercial sprinkler systems. Home sprinkler systems are significantly smaller and less expensive than their business security systems counterparts.
Convenient to Install
Many home systems use inexpensive plastic piping for distributing water and are capable of operating effectively with very little water. The systems are designed to be installed with minimal effort and can work off a standard residential water supply system. An installed home sprinkler system can help drive home insurance costs down and make a home potentially more attractive to buyers. According to the USFA, home fire sprinkler systems currently cost less than $2 per foot, but the price could go down substantially as more people begin installing them with a home security system.