Clearing Up Some Common Misconceptions About Fire Sprinklers

Posted on: 18 July 2017

If you have a commercial building of any sort, you probably have a fire sprinkler system installed, as these are often legally required in such a facility. However, it's good to understand a few important details about that sprinkler system so you know your building is always safe from a potential fire and to ensure you pass all fire safety inspections as well! Note a few misconceptions about fire sprinkler systems, and then discuss these with your installer or your fire safety inspector as needed.

Fire sprinklers go off accidentally

Fire sprinklers are designed to engage when they sense a certain amount of heat or smoke. It's very difficult to engage them in any other way, and it's unlikely that your building can become so hot that the sprinklers do come on, unless there is an actual fire.

Also, if you break off a sprinkler head accidentally, this can cause a water leak, but it's not likely that the entire sprinkler system would then come on. If you are concerned about your sprinklers coming on accidentally, perhaps because of an employee cooking in the break room or if someone were to smoke inside, talk to your fire safety inspector about these risks and how to avoid them with your system.

Alarms engage the sprinklers

A fire alarm can be connected to fire sprinklers so that pulling the alarm or having it sound if it senses smoke will cause the sprinklers to engage. However, this would depend on your own system; many sprinkler systems work independently of the alarms, as some alarms today may sound when they sense radon or other harmful gases, or they may be tied to the security system so they engage in case of a break-in. Ask the sprinkler's manufacturer if your alarms are connected to the sprinklers if you're concerned about this issue.

Sprinklers freeze up in colder areas

Fires can actually start in commercial cold rooms, depending on the material stored there. This is why it's good to have a sprinkler system that extends into such areas; however, you might assume that the water in a sprinkler system would freeze in such areas and cause damage to the pipes. However, sprinklers don't hold standing water in their pipes, as this can cause eventual rust or other such damage. Instead, sprinklers are connected to your building's plumbing system and, when engaged, release as quickly as turning on a faucet. This also keeps them from freezing up in wintertime or in cold storage areas.