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5 Factors for Choosing the Right Fire Sprinkler

You don’t want to go wrong when choosing a fire sprinkler because doing so is vital to controlling and extinguishing a fire. It’s best to select sprinklers based on occupancy, hazards, and conditions such as the building’s ceiling height, construction type, air temperature, and available water supply. You also want to consider the area the sprinklers will protect. 

The purpose of fire sprinklers is straightforward. However, a lot of research and testing goes into their design. The NFPA13 Standard for the Installation of Fire Sprinklers classifies sprinklers in many ways based on the following factors: 

  • Temperature rating
  •  K-factor
  • Orientation
  • Response type
  • Design and performance characteristics 

Today, we’ll go over these factors and how to choose the right fire sprinkler. 

Chesapeake Sprinkler Company Fire Sprinkler System

Use these vital factors.

Temperature Rating 

You base the temperature rating of the fire sprinkler on the maximum expected ceiling temperature to avoid an accidental discharge. According to ECRI, a global healthcare technology, and safety authority, inadvertent discharges happen because of overheating. After all, fire sprinklers activate by heat, and you only want them to discharge in an emergency. 


A fire sprinkler’s K-factor is a mathematical equation the manufacturer establishes based on the discharged water flow at a given pressure. Manufacturers chose k-factors based on water supply characteristics. Fire sprinklers with a higher K-factor are optimal for a water supply with high volume but low pressure. For water supplies with a lower water volume at a higher pressure, smaller K-factor sprinklers are best. 


Sprinklers have five different installation orientations, which include the following: 

  • Upright: Installed with the deflector (metal plates that determine the water’s direction) above the frame to ensure water flows upward from the orifice opening (the opening through which water flows), striking the deflector to employ an umbrella spray pattern
  • Pendant: Installed with the deflector below that frame so that water flows downward to create an umbrella spray effect
  • Horizontal sidewall: Installed on the wall by the ceiling with the deflector situated parallel to the roof/ceiling to provide an outward spray pattern in a quarter spherical pattern 
  • Recessed: Installed with all or some of the body mounted in a recessed housing. 
  • Concealed: The entire body sits within a recessed housing with a cover plate to hide the fire sprinkler. 

Response Type

Response type is another way to say “thermal sensitivity,” which measures the speed with which the thermal element performs once the air around the fire sprinkler reaches the sprinkler’s operating temperature. The two types of primary thermal sensitivities are “fast” and “standard.” 

Design and Performance Characteristics 

The design and performance characteristics that a sprinkler can have include the following: 

  • Spray: Provides fire control for a broad range of fire hazards
  • CDMA: Control Mode/Density Area sprinklers are spray sprinklers that control fires using density/area criteria. You’ll usually see these in warehouses, manufacturing facilities, or areas where you must protect storage, aircraft hangars, or areas with flammable liquids. 
  • CMSA: A Control Mode/Specific Area sprinkler produces large water droplets to protect against high-challenge fire hazards (produced by fires in combustible high-piled storage) 
  • Extended Coverage: Has a larger maximum coverage area and spacing limits than standard coverage sprinklers 
  • QR: Quick-Response sprinklers have an RTI rating (measures how thermally responsive the heat-responsiveness of a fire sprinkler is) of 50 (meters-seconds)1/2 or less. 
  • Open: This sprinkler type doesn’t have a thermal element that covers the orifice and is found in deluge fire sprinkler systems

Chesapeake Sprinkler Can Help You Choose the Right Fire Protection Equipment 

Does this information sound complex? That’s because it is! Every building is unique, and there are many things to consider when considering the right fire sprinkler system. But have no fear because Chesapeake Sprinkler is here to install the best fire protection equipment for your building and industry. 

Contact Chesapeake Sprinkler Company Today!

Chesapeake Sprinkler Company is a leading fire sprinkler contractor in the region, which is now a 100% employee-owned (ESOP) company. As a full-service fire protection company, we offer design, fabrication, installation, testing, maintenance, and inspection of fire protection systems—everything you need from your fire suppression specialist. For more information, please email or call our Odenton location at 410-674-7041, our Ashburn location at 703-729-5150, or for service/maintenance Chesapeake Protection Services at 410-674-7577. For emergencies, call 800-298-3473 (FIRE). Feel free to keep in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

This entry was posted on Friday, January 13th, 2023 at 4:49 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.