If someone asked you to name a component of your Houston fire sprinkler system, could you do it? Sure, you could say the pump or the sprinkler head, but there’s much more to it than that! Having some knowledge about the different parts of your fire sprinkler system can come in handy, especially when your fire protection services technician gives you the report on your most recent fire sprinkler system inspection. At Kauffman Co, we want to make sure our clients have the most information possible regarding their fire protection systems, because the more you know about your fire sprinkler system, the better it will be able to keep you protected from fires!
Parts of a Fire Sprinkler System
Alarm valve – the alarm valve takes over for the stop valve when the fire sprinkler system activates, controlling the flow of water into the fire sprinkler system. It is a one-way valve, closed when the fire sprinkler heads are closed and open only when the heads are open.
Alarm test valve – the alarm test valve allows you to test your fire sprinkler system at shut-off conditions. This is useful for your weekly fire pump tests, allowing you to run the pump without flooding your facility every time!
Motorized alarm – everyone knows what a fire alarm is. When the fire sprinkler system turns on, the flow of water causes a hammer to strike against a bell, which creates a loud noise that alerts the occupants of your building to danger.
Sprinkler heads – the fire sprinkler heads are one of the only parts of the fire sprinkler system that you see on a daily basis. Fire sprinkler heads are not much more than valves that open in response to high temperatures. One of the nice things about fire sprinkler heads is that they contain the flow of water to just the area where the fire is occurring – unlike in movies where a fire sprinkler floods the office, fire sprinkler heads keep their protection area limited to only where it is needed.
Stop valve – the stop valve is usually red and should always be locked in the open position. The stop valve (appropriately enough) stops the flow of water from coming into the fire sprinkler system from the municipal water supply when the fire sprinkler system is not going off. A separate valve monitor monitors the stop valve to see if it is open or closed (notice the creative naming conventions!).
Other Parts of a Fire Pump
Booster/jockey pump – auxiliary pump used to maintain system pressure without starting the main pump. Jockey pumps are not designed to keep up with full system demand – only pressure maintenance.
City bypass – piping configuration that allows city water to bypass the fire pump and feed the sprinkler system directly. Often used as a backup while the fire pump is under maintenance, during a power outage or in conjunction with an FDC (see below) to make sure some water still gets to the sprinklers.
FDC – stands for Fire Department Connection. The FDC is a connection on the outside of your building that connects to the discharge side of the pump. If the fire pump doesn’t start, the sprinklers can be fed directly by a fire engine’s pump system.
Flow meter loop – piping configuration that allows for system testing without flowing waste water out of the system. A connection on the discharge side of the fire pump routes water through a venture (flow meter) which measures water flow, then circles it back to the suction side of the fire pump to be recirculated into the system.
Flow switch – flow switches monitor the flow of water through different sections of pipe within the automatic fire sprinkler system. If they sense enough water flowing, they trigger the alarm.
Pressure gauge –measures the pressure within the fire sprinkler system. No real surprises there!
Pressure switch –enables the fire sprinkler system to alert the fire department that your fire sprinkler system is going off, and monitors your fire alarm system by watching for a fall in water pressure after the alarm valve.
Knowing about the different parts of your fire sprinkler system will come in handy when your fire protection services technician explains the results of your latest fire sprinkler system test. If you want more information about our fire sprinkler inspection services in Houston, Texas, call Kauffman Co today!