Having a commercial fire sprinkler system is one of the best ways to ensure your assets and the people in your building have adequate fire protection. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), fires cause $11.6 billion in property damage every year. In 2014 alone, there were 3,267 fatalities due to structure fires. Of those, 522 fatalities were a result of commercial property fires that could’ve been prevented if the building had a commercial fire sprinkler system. In fact, the NFPA has no record of a building that is properly equipped with a commercial fire sprinkler system ever having a fire that caused more than two fatalities.
Choosing a Sprinkler System
Selecting the best fire sprinkler systems protection for your building typically depends on the function of the property. There are hundreds of different fire sprinkler designs, but they all fall into five basic categories:
- Pre-action Fire Sprinkler Systems
The pre-action fire sprinkler system is filled with air that has to be released before the water is a emitted. Unlike other sprinklers, this type of fire sprinkler system requires two triggers to go off, such as the smoke detector and a heat detector or manual trigger.
Ideal for: A pre-action fire sprinkler system is best suited for buildings that hold equipment that could be equally damaged by the sprinkler system water as it would by the fire. For example, if you run a data center or a bookstore, you would not want your property soaked with water, even in the case of fire.
- Dry Pipe Fire Sprinkler System
Like a pre-action fire sprinkler system, a dry pipe fire sprinkler system is also filled with air that has to be released before the water goes out. The biggest distinction between a pre-action and a dry pipe sprinkler system is that the dry pipe system does not require two triggers to go off. Upon being triggered by a fire detection tool, the dry pipe immediately forces the air out so that the water can be released quickly.
Ideal for: A dry pipe fire sprinkler system is ideal for structures that are not temperature controlled and hold the risk of freezing. Since water expands when it freezes, holding water in pipes that are exposed to the elements could lead to pipes exploding in cold conditions.
- Wet Pipe Fire Sprinkler System
This is the most common type of fire sprinkler system installed in commercial buildings. The pipes constantly hold water so the moment the fire alarm is triggered, water can be released to put the fire out and minimize the damage.
Ideal for: In most cases, the wet pipe fire sprinkler system is the best system for your commercial building. This type of fire sprinkler system is the least expensive to install, and requires the least amount of ongoing maintenance.
- Deluge Fire Sprinkler System
A deluge fire sprinkler system is one of the least common types of sprinkler systems. The sprinkler heads are constantly open so that all of them can simultaneously go into action and immediately saturate the area with water if triggered by the fire detection system, including smoke alarms, flame detection, heat detection, or manual trigger.
Ideal for: A deluge fire sprinkler system is ideal for buildings that hold highly flammable material such as volatile chemicals, and for airplane hangers. It is also sometimes used to create a “fire protection wall” that stops a potential fire from spreading to a structure to begin with.
- Foam Fire Sprinkler Systems
As the name implies, foam fire sprinklers emit foam to smother a fire rather than water.
Ideal for: Structures that have substances that hold a greater fire threat if they come into contact with water, such as combustible liquids or running electronics.
Cost of Installing a Commercial Sprinkler System
Although no amount of money is is too much to protect human life, the cost of installing a commercial fire sprinkler system is less then you would assume. If you’re incorporating it as the building is being constructed, the cost is as little as $1-2 dollars per square foot, including equipment and installation. Retrofitting in existing building after it’s already complete usually costs about $2-7 per square foot.
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