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The Importance of Proper Fire Sprinkler Design

We’ve said over and over again on this blog that the most important fire protection system you can have in your building is a fire sprinkler. But did you know that the quality of your fire sprinkler installation can affect how well it will keep you safe? Having a fire sprinkler that doesn’t work is as bad as—or worse than—not having one at all! Proper initial design and installation of automatic sprinkler systems are the most significant factors that go into creating a reliable building fire protection strategy.

As you know, properly designed and installed fire sprinklers can help control fires and reduce injury, death and damages—often by 80percent or more. Like anything, however, fire sprinkler systems do have limitations that need to be taken into account. To keep your sprinklers working properly, it’s important that you understand these inherent limitations.

Top 5 Reasons for Poor Sprinkler Performance

Post-fire loss investigations reveal the cause of fires and causes associated with sprinkler system failures. Some common causes of unsatisfactory sprinkler system performance failures are failure to operate, ineffectiveness to control a fire and failure to limit damages to life and property. The top five reasons for poor sprinkler performance are:

  • Water shut off
  • A sprinkler system that is not designed for the proper hazard level
  • Lack of adequate water supplies
  • Inadequate sprinkler system maintenance
  • Obstruction to the sprinkler system’s water distribution

To keep your system running smoothly, it’s important that you schedule annual fire sprinkler inspections.

Fire Sprinkler Design Tenants

A proper fire sprinkler design must do more than just create a plan that fits with your building’s layout. There are a number of things that need to be taken into account, including:

The hazard level in your building

The first step of our fire sprinkler design process is determining the hazard level of your building. This will give us an idea of the type of fire sprinkler you’ll need. We group buildings into five separate categories:

  • Light hazard
  • Ordinary hazard group 1
  • Ordinary hazard group 2
  • Extra hazard group 1
  • Extra hazard group 2

Factors involved in categorizing your building’s fire hazard level include the materials used in construction, the amount of people in the building, the types of materials stored inside and the processes performed inside, as well as things like ceiling heights, ease of egress and the number of individual floors and rooms.

The design area and density

Once we’ve assessed the hazard level in your building, the next step of the fire sprinkler design process is to figure out the “design area,” which is the theoretical space where a fire breakout will do the most damage. Once we determine the exact risk level of this area, we apply the same level of risk to the rest of your building. Then we figure out how much water it would take to put out a fire in the design area and use this information in our fire sprinkler design to determine the types of sprinkler heads, the amount of pressure and the specifics of the fire sprinkler design.

Which type of fire sprinkler design will best meet your needs

It’s extremely important to have a fire sprinkler design that delivers the right amount of water to extinguish a fire in the design area. Aided by our advanced fire sprinkler design software, our fire sprinkler design engineers carefully calculate this amount, taking into account not only initial water pressure but also pipe friction, momentum, changes in elevation, etc.

If you need to install a fire sprinkler system in Houston, TX, it’s important that you go with a company you can trust to do it right. The fire protection professionals at Kauffman Co. have over 100 years combined experience servicing fire protection systems throughout Houston. For more information, call today!

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