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Chapter 7

Automatic Fire Sprinkler


Systems
Objectives
• Describe an automatic fire sprinkler
system.
• Discuss the myths and realities associated
with automatic fire sprinkler system
operation.
• List and describe the different components
that make up an automatic fire sprinkler
system.
Objectives
• List and describe the different types of
automatic fire sprinkler system heads.
• Describe the different types of automatic
fire sprinkler systems and the best
applications for those systems.
• State the factors that determine
requirements to install automatic fire
sprinkler systems.
Objectives
• Discuss the design concepts behind
automatic fire sprinkler systems.
• List and describe different occupancy and
commodity classifications.
• Discuss the inspection and testing
requirements for automatic fire sprinkler
systems.
Introduction
• Automatic fire sprinkler systems are
networks of underground and overhead
piping fed by automatic water supply.
• The basis for a fire sprinkler system is to
keep a fire at a relatively small size and
under control.
• The purpose of a commercial or industrial
fire sprinkler system is to provide both life
safety and property protection.
Fire Sprinkler System
Components
• Pipe and fittings
– Pipe and fittings join together to provide a
conduit for the water.
– Joining methods
– Piping and tubing
materials
– Fitting materials

© A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning


Fire Sprinkler System
Components
• Gauges
– Small but important component
• Water gauges
• Air gauges
– Should not be subjected to freezing
temperatures
– Should have a control valve capable of
draining
Fire Sprinkler System
Components
• Valves

© A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning


– Water control valves
– Check valves
– Drain valves
– Isolation valves
– Pressure-reducing and pressure-relief valves
– General-purpose valves
Fire Sprinkler System
Components
• Pipe support and stabilization assemblies
– Piping is held in place by the following:
• Bracing, guides, and restraints
• Hanger assemblies
• Fasteners
– With exceptions, all components must be
made of ferrous materials that can handle
heat.
– NFPA 13
Fire Sprinkler System
Components
• Automatic sprinkler heads
– Distribute water over a limited area at
designated flow rate
– Most operate at a predetermined temperature.

© A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning


Fire Sprinkler System
Components
• Automatic sprinkler heads
(cont’d)
– Components
• Frame, heat-sensitive element,
orifice, orifice cap, deflector, trim
ring/cover/cup/escutcheon plate,
sprinkler head wrench
– Types © A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning

• Old-style, standard spray, specialty


– Identification, labeling, and
markings
• Sprinkler identification number
Types of Systems
• Wet pipe systems
– Least expensive
– Most frequently installed
– Easiest to maintain
– Easiest to modify
– Most reliable

© A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning


Types of Systems
• Wet pipe systems (cont’d)
Types of Systems
• Dry pipe systems
– Can be used for unheated areas
– May have accelerators or exhausters installed
– More complex, in general, than wet pipe
sprinkler systems

© A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning


Types of Systems
• Dry pipe systems (cont’d)
Types of Systems
• Preaction systems
– Closed sprinkler heads
– Most require two separate events.
– Preaction valve can be released by various
activation methods.
– Manual release
capabilities

© A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning


Types of Systems
• Preaction systems (cont’d)
Types of Systems
• Deluge systems
– Deluge valve receives the
appropriate signal from the
detection system to release
the clapper.
• Electric method
• Hydraulic method
© A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning

• Pneumatic method
– Usually protect high-hazard
occupancies
Types of Systems
• Deluge systems (cont’d)
Types of Systems
• Residential sprinkler
systems
– Vast majority are wet
pipe systems.
– Primary piping
materials are CPVC,
copper, polyethylene,
and polybutylene.
– Water is supplied by
domestic water line. © A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning
Required Installations
• Model codes by the NFPA and ICC establish
requirements.
– Primarily based on use and occupancy conditions
– Specific thresholds
• Occupant load
• Building height
• Storage conditions
• Number of levels above or below exit discharge
– Thresholds can influence design of a building under
certain conditions.
Design and Installation
Standards
• Overview
– Published fire sprinkler system design and
installation standards are available from
model code and insurance organizations.
• NFPA 13
• NFPA 13D
• NFPA 13R
Design and Installation
Standards
• NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of
Sprinkler Systems
– Performance objective
• Maintain control of a fire to the point that
emergency responders can complete the
suppression activity
– Same for all occupancy, commodity, and
storage conditions
– Widely used
Design and Installation
Standards
• NFPA 13D, Standard for the Installation of
Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family
Dwellings and Manufactured Homes
– System must:
• Be economically viable
• Provide sufficient time for escape or rescue
• Prevent flashover
– Revisions use data to develop requirements
for residential sprinkler heads.
Design and Installation
Standards
• NFPA 13R, Standard for the Installation of
Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential
Occupancies
– Loosely follows NFPA 13 requirements
– Follows NFPA 13D concepts of placing
sprinkler heads
– Has evolved to deal with technological
advances
Design and Installation
Standards
• Other fire sprinkler standards
– Used when:
• Level of hazard exceeding the scope of NFPA 13
• Specific design requirements for a hazard
• The approving authority requires the use of a
different standard
– NFPA 30, 30B, 214, 804
– Insurance providers may develop own
standards.
– Design professional determines best to use.
Design Concepts for Automatic
Fire Sprinkler Systems
• Design professionals
– Classify the occupancy,
commodities, or storage
arrangement
– Determine the hazard
– Choose pipe schedule or
hydraulic
– Determine flow/pressure reqs © A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning

– Determine if adequate water


supply
Design Concepts for Automatic
Fire Sprinkler Systems
• The basis for designing an NFPA 13
system
– The professional must determine three
factors:
• The hazard
• The design density required to protect the hazard
• The water supply necessary to support the system
demand
– When these are determined, designer
provides best system to control/extinguish a
fire.
Inspection, Testing, and
Maintenance Requirements
• Acceptance inspections and tests
– Flushing
– Hydrostatic and air tests
– Visual inspection
– Operation of components
– Main drain test

© A. Maurice Jones, Jr./Jones & Bartlett Learning


Inspection, Testing, and
Maintenance Requirements
• Periodic inspection, testing, and
maintenance
– Testing should be in accordance with the
established intervals listed in NFPA 25.
– Impairments to a fire sprinkler system result
from the following:
• Component failure
• Lack of proper inspection, testing, and
maintenance
Summary
• Automatic fire sprinkler systems are not just a
series of pipes and sprinkler heads randomly
placed throughout buildings; they are
engineered systems designed to control a fire
within minutes of the fire starting.
• The basis for commercial and industrial fire
sprinkler system design is not necessarily to
extinguish the fire but to keep the fire at a
relatively small size and under control until fire
department personnel arrive.
Summary
• Automatic fire sprinkler systems offer
building owners and homeowners a
reliable, effective, economical, and proven
protection system that will keep them from
losing the things they value, including their
property and the lives of their families,
employees, and the occupants of the
buildings they own.
Summary
• For well over 125 years, properly designed,
installed, inspected, tested, and maintained
automatic fire sprinkler systems have
provided property protection and life safety
with unmatched success.
• The model codes permit some increases and
some reductions in building performance and
construction characteristics when a full
automatic fire sprinkler system is installed.
Summary
• Though fire sprinkler systems may seem
simple, they require an understanding of
the hazard; competent design, layout, and
installation; periodic inspection, testing,
and maintenance; and reevaluation to
ensure that the hazard has not changed to
the point where the original system design
and installation are no longer adequate to
protect it.
Summary
• The different types of automatic fire
sprinkler systems may have similar
characteristics, but not all systems are
alike and to assume so is a mistake.
Changes in occupancy, contents, storage
arrangement, and process can render a
sprinkler system inadequate and may
require a different type of system to
protect the building or structure.