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Myths vs. Facts: Sprinkler Systems

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Over the last 100 years, fire sprinkler systems have been a proven method of providing life and property saving protection. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to these systems.  Keep reading to see some common misunderstandings about the operation and effectiveness of fire sprinkler systems.

Myth: When a fire occurs, every sprinkler head goes off.

Fact: Sprinkler heads are individually activated by fire temperatures in excess of 155°. Residential fires are usually controlled with one sprinkler head. 90% of all fires are controlled with six or fewer heads and a study conducted during 80 years of automatic sprinkler use found that 82% of the fires that have occurred were controlled by two or fewer sprinkler heads.

Myth: Water damage from a sprinkler system will be more extensive than fire damage.

Fact: Water damage from a building sprinkler system will be much less severe than the damage caused by water from fire fighting hose lines or smoke and fire damage if the fire is allowed to spread. Quick response sprinklers release 8-24 gallons of water per minute compared to 80-125 gallons per minute discharged by a fire hose.

Myth: Sprinklers are designed to protect property, but are not effective for life safety.

Fact: Sprinklers provide a high level of life safety. Statistics reveal that there has never been any multiple loss of life in a fully sprinklered building. Property losses are 85% less in residences with fire sprinklers compared to those without sprinklers. The combination of automatic sprinklers and early warning systems in all buildings could reduce overall injuries, loss of life and property damage by at least 50%.

Myth: Sprinkler heads activate accidentally.

Fact: When installed and maintained correctly, leaks are very unlikely due to each individual sprinkler head being designed and calibrated to activate only when it senses a significant heat change.

Myth: Fire sprinklers are expensive.

Fact: Fire sprinklers typically amount to 1% - 2% of the average building costs. In addition, most insurance companies offer insurance benefits to companies with properly installed and well-maintained fire sprinkler systems.

Myth: Sprinkler may go off accidentally.

Fact: Research shows that the probability of a sprinkler discharging accidentally due to a manufacturing defect is only 1 in 16 million. You have a better chance of winning the lottery!

Myth: Sprinkler systems don’t work.

Fact: Most studies of sprinkler system effectiveness show that sprinkler systems are between 98% and 99.8% effective in the control of fire. The majority of incidences regarding ineffectiveness of sprinkler systems are related primarily to the failure of building owners to keep sprinkler control valves in the open position.

Myth: Automatic fire detection systems are an acceptable substitute for sprinklers.

Fact: Automatic fire detection systems do not control or suppress a fire and are not a substitute for an automatic sprinkler system. Detection systems have a good record of providing notification, but do not provide suppression.

For more information on the different types of sprinkler systems we offer, check out our sprinkler offerings page.

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