Wet Pipe Sprinkler Systems
By a wide-margin, wet pipe sprinklers are the most popular due to their simplicity and low-margin of error. However, these systems are constantly filled with water, so they should not be installed in environments that have the potential to freeze.
Once the heat-sensitive automatic sprinkler is triggered by a fire, the pressurized water that inhabits the pipe allows the water to flow from the activated sprinkler. Because water flows only from the activated sprinkler, the water expels within the direct area of the fire, minimizing water damage. Alarms sound once the sprinkler initiates and continues until the water flow is manually extinguished.
Wet pipe sprinklers should be used exclusively in temperature controlled environments that do not run the risk of freezing. Additionally, if a wet pipe sprinkler is severely damaged, it could result in leaks.
Dry Pipe Sprinkler Systems
When there is the potential for freezing, dry pipe systems are an ideal option.
Dry pipe sprinklers do not have water present in the piping until the system operates. The piping is filled with pressurized air that is supplied by either an approved air compressor or nitrogen. Once a sprinkler is activated by a fire, the dry pipe valve opens, allowing water to flow into the pipes.
Due to the air in the piping, there is a time delay in sprinkler activation. This can cause the fire to grow larger than it would with a wet pipe system. To counteract the delay, more sprinklers in the fire area will activate than with a wet pipe system. Another option to compensate for the delay is adding a quick opening device to rapidly remove air from the pipes.
Pre-action systems are ideal for computer rooms, museums, or other institutions that hold equipment or materials that could be harmed by water. This system requires a preceding fire detection event to occur in order for the sprinklers to activate. This prevents the sprinkler from accidently triggering.
Pre-action systems are a mixture of wet, dry, and deluge systems, depending on the facility's needs.
There are three types of pre-action systems:
- Non-Interlock - A valve is activated by a detection system or heat-responsive sprinkler and water floods the piping systems.
- Single Interlock - A fire detector initiates the deluge valve, introducing water into the piping system. A sprinkler fuse will then signal the sprinkler to activate.
- Double Interlock - Water is introduced into the sprinkler piping only after a fire alarm initiates and the sprinkler fuse signals.
Scalability is limited due to pre-defined size restrictions. Future enhancements require the modification of interconnected fire detection and control systems to guarantee optimal performance.
Deluge systems are best for areas that hold high-risk equipment and are not vulnerable to water damage. They are utilized in environments where a fire could spread quickly due to its aptitude for quickly extinguishing fires.
A detection system prompts the water to enter into the piping system. Because deluge sprinkler heads are continuously open, the water will then freely flow, extinguishing the fire.
Sprinkler heads are consistently open, so deluge systems should only be installed in open environments that do not have water-sensitive equipment.
Water Mist Systems
In areas that are often frequented by personnel, but with equipment that is water sensitive, water mist systems are a good option. The light mist uses minimal water, creating a steam that controls the fire without water damage. Water mist sprinklers are an environmentally friendly alternative to Halon.
Water is converted into steam, which redirects oxygen from the flames, extinguishing the fire. The fuel is cooled during this process, preventing the fire from reigniting. The National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors tested the water mist sprinkler, and found that the control group fire's flames reached four meters above the test room module and reached 100% smoke in 20 minutes. With the use of a water mist sprinkler, the fire was extinguished in 2 seconds.
Water mist sprinklers require heat to vaporize the mist, so these systems may not be as effective with smaller fires.
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