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Reliability of Fire Sprinklers

Do you own a home or business in the Houston area? If you want to protect your investment along with the people and property inside, be sure to install fire sprinklers. This type of fire protection system is highly reliable. It puts out fires effectively, saves lives, and preserves property. Learn more about the reliability of fire sprinklers here.

How Fire Sprinklers Work

You can choose from four different types of fire sprinklers: wet pipe, dry pipe, pre-action, and deluge. The wet pipe version is the most popular, in which the piping holds water at the ready in case a sprinkler head activates.

Dry pipe fire sprinklers are the next most common type. The plumbing in this system contains pressurized air or nitrogen, which pushes out through the sprinkler head before water starts flowing. You might need this type of fire sprinkler system if your building has low temperatures that could cause standing water in a wet pipe system to freeze.

No matter what type of fire sprinklers you choose, keep some important things in mind about how fire sprinklers work:

  • Sprinkler heads activate when exposed to high heat, not smoke, minimizing accidental discharge when there isn’t a fire.
  • Individual sprinkler heads open one at a time, reducing water damage when extinguishing a fire. In two-thirds of fires where the sprinklers activate, only one or two sprinkler heads are needed to douse the flames completely.
  • Having a sprinkler system means your home or business is guarded 24/7. Because of the nearly instant response time, sprinklers put out fires using far less water than the fire department would, again minimizing water damage.

Reliability of Fire Sprinklers

To help you determine whether fire sprinklers are a worthwhile investment, consider these findings from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published in 2013 and 2014:

Fire sprinklers save lives

Far more people survive when fires break out in sprinklered buildings compared to properties without sprinkler systems. The death rate is 61 percent lower in sprinklered warehouses, 82 percent lower in sprinklered homes, and 88 percent lower in sprinklered manufacturing facilities. Indeed, the NFPA has no record of more than two people perishing in a fire in a completely sprinklered building when the system operated as intended.

Fire sprinklers protect property

Property damage rates plummet across all industries when fire sprinklers are present. For example, restaurants without sprinklers suffer an average of $53,000 in damages per fire, while sprinklered facilities see only $13,000 in damages (75 percent decrease). Home fires average $20,000 in damages, but if you add a sprinkler system, this average drops to $7,000 (65 percent decrease).

Sprinkler systems usually activate as intended

When a blaze erupts in a sprinklered building, the system operates 91 percent of the time. In these cases, the fire is extinguished 96 percent of the time. These figures amount to a total success rate of 87 percent.

The leading reasons why sprinklers fail to activate include:

  • The system was shut off (64 percent)
  • Human intervention defeated the system (17 percent)
  • Damaged components prevented activation (7 percent)
  • Lack of maintenance (6 percent)
  • Inappropriate system for the type of fire (5 percent)

The leading reasons why sprinklers activate but are ineffective include:

  • The water didn’t reach the fire (44 percent)
  • Not enough water was released (30 percent)
  • Damaged components prevented effective operation (8 percent)
  • Human intervention defeated the system (7 percent)
  • Lack of maintenance (7 percent)
  • Inappropriate system for the type of fire (7 percent)

If you’re interested in having fire sprinklers installed in your Houston-area home or business, contact Kauffman Co. online or call (713) 893-1090 for a free quote.

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