How Do Fire Sprinklers Work? - Fire Safety Blog | Fire Extinguisher Service & Sales - match_iStock_000017482380LargeWhether you pay close attention or not, you’ve probably seen fire sprinklers in most of the commercial buildings you’ve entered. Mounted on the ceiling, they are designed to drench an area with water to put off a fire before it spreads. Perhaps you’ve seen them in action, hopefully on TV or in a movie rather than in your own personal experience. While movies tend to show sprinklers all erupting at once as they detect smoke, this is somewhat misleading because sprinklers are actually heat activated, and they engage one by one because most fires only require a couple of sprinklers before they are extinguished.

When a fire breaks out, hot air rises to the ceiling. When the hot air reaches the sprinkler head, it engages and begins to spray water on the fire. Most sprinkler heads require a temperature between 135 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit to activate (which dispels the theory that sprinkler systems are temperamental and can be easily set off by accident, causing severe water damage). Sprinkler heads typically include a glass tube that is filled with a glycerin-based liquid that expands when heated, causing the glass to break and the sprinkler head to engage. Once it is triggered, the valve to the water system opens and releases water downward and out to the sides. This is a carefully engineered spray that is designed to extinguish the fire below before it begins to spread.

A fire sprinkler system is the most effective way to prevent a building from experiencing severe damage in the event of a fire, and it is 65% more effective at preventing death and property damage than smoke alarm systems. If you’re interested in installing a fire sprinkler system in your building, or you need service for your existing system, contact the experts at Fire Extinguisher Sales and Service today for a free site analysis.