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Fire Sprinklers and Fire Suppression Systems: Differences

Fire Sprinklers and Fire Suppression Systems: Differences

Does your building need a water-based fire sprinkler or a fire suppression system? Find out here.

Outfitting or retrofitting commercial buildings with the right fire protection systems is crucial. Fire is unfortunately an ever-present threat. In commercial facilities the stakes are higher for protecting lives and property. Two main types of fire protection systems help relieve these needs: water-based fire sprinklers and fire suppression systems. You may have heard of these two types of overhead systems but not be sure about the differences or where each is appropriate. If your facility needs fire protection, this article is for you.

Fire Sprinklers

Fire sprinkler systems are common sights in many commercial facilities, including apartment complexes, restaurants, department stores, retail, groceries, and warehouses. As one may expect, they douse large fires with water, set off by connected heat detectors. There are different kinds of fire sprinklers, some of which may work better with your premises. These types include:

  • Wet pipe: Wet pipe systems continuously contain water and activate once the element fuses on a single sprinkler head.
  • Dry pipe: Dry pipes contain pressurized oxygen or nitrogen and release the gas again by head fusion allowing water to be dispersed.
  • Pre-action: Pre-action sprinklers take dry pipe systems one step further. The pre-action system requires an electronic element to engage prior to water delivery. These systems are normally crossed-zoned to require two electronic devices to activate prior to water being charged in the piping for delivery. This combination cuts the chances of water entering systems by false activation, making them a safer alternative for designs containing telecom or computer rooms that may not be a good fit for suppression.
  • Deluge: In Deluge systems the sprinkler heads are always open with no activation elements. In this design it means water delivery across the entire system, all at once. This creates the namesake, the Deluge. In this design, very large amounts of water are delivered to fire areas, making it a good fit for high risk or industrial type storage areas and aircraft hangers with the addition of AFFF. AFFF is a foaming agent added to the wet system to blanket fire to suppress.

Fire Suppression Systems

Fire suppression systems are similar to fire sprinklers, except they use specific chemical gases to snuff out fires. Water may be a fine and safe solution for many materials like cardboard, produce, paper, plastic, fabric, etc., but it won’t work in all situations. The water will either be insufficient to extinguish the flames or severely damage inventory, such as historical artifacts or electronic equipment. Fire suppression systems release gases that swiftly snuff out flames without harming property.

Various types include the following:

  • Clean agents: Clean agents such as FM 200, Novec 1230, and carbon dioxide extinguish fires by removing either oxygen or heat from the affected area. After doing their job, they leave no trace.
  • Wet Chemical: Wet chemical systems launch a liquid spray that works with fats and oils to dissolve flames and prevent reignition. This type is ideal for commercial kitchens.
  • Dry chemical: Dry fire suppression systems spray a powdery chemical over the area, working best with flammable liquids and electronics.

Need an Expert’s Advice?

Still unsure which type is the best solution for your commercial site? Chesapeake Sprinkler Company is here to help!

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 Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020 at 3:39 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.