How Does a Fire Sprinkler System Work?

Fire sprinklers are installed in order to extinguish fires as soon as they are detectable. Sprinklers are activated by heat, therefore, not all the sprinklers in system will activate due to a single heat source. Only those directly above the heat source, where the threshold temperature has been reached, will activate. Most sprinkler heads are fitted with a small glass tube containing glycerin. The heat from the fire causes the glycerin to expand, breaking the glass and activating the flow of water via the opening of a valve. Above the sprinklers, running across the ceiling, are a series of pipes which deliver water to the sprinklers. These are connected either to the municipal water supply or to an outside water source.

How Often Do Sprinkler Systems Need to Be Inspected?

The type of inspection and maintenance tasks required, and the frequency with which they need to be performed, are covered under the NFPA 25 requirements. On a weekly or monthly basis, the gauges in the sprinkler system should be checked and tested. It is suggested that the other components (including the supervisory alarm devices, control valves, signal devices and hydraulic nameplates) are inspected and tested every three months. Once a year, the pipes, fittings and relevant signage needs to be checked. The internal workings of the sprinklers (involving dismantling them to check their integrity) need only be completed once every five years. By sticking to this schedule, the risk of your sprinkler system malfunctioning, or failing completely, is minimized.