Quick Guide to Fire Protection Systems for Contractors

Quick Guide to Fire Protection Systems for Contractors | Phyxter Home Services

When it comes to providing building safety, you have diverse ways to achieve that. Some would install security alarms to prevent criminals and other unauthorized personnel from entering the building.

Another system that helps keep everyone safe inside a building during an emergency is emergency lights. These turn on whenever the main power suddenly cuts off, and everyone needs to see where they’re going to find the fire exits.

However, one building system can protect the building from getting engulfed in flames; and those are fire protection systems. You can find many commercial and industrial buildings with the best fire protection system that the market can offer.

If you’re a contractor looking for more information about fire protection systems, here are a few different variants you should know about when discussing safety systems with your clients about upcoming projects.

Automatic Fire Sprinklers

Automatic wet pipe fire protection system

The first fire protection system you should know about is automatic fire sprinkler systems. As the name suggests, the sprinklers automatically turn on when it detects a fire within the area using smoke or heat detectors.

It will only operate automatically when the temperature reaches a certain point.

One common misapprehension with automatic fire sprinklers is that every sprinkler head will go off automatically all at once during a fire (thanks Hollywood!). However, you can find that only the deluge-type fire sprinkler system opens their sprinkler heads simultaneously. It’s not a standard fire sprinkler system in commercial buildings but commonly used in special facilities like aircraft hangers.

When automatic fire sprinklers detect fire, they would usually disperse water only in areas where the fire happened, ensuring that other areas within the building stay dry. You will need automatic fire sprinklers because they are effective at extinguishing a fire’s initial growth phase.

They work by spreading continuous water flow over the fire until the fire extinguishes itself.

Wet Pipe Sprinkler Systems

Wet Pipe Sprinkler System

It’s a standard fire sprinkler system that most buildings install. Fire system technicians or the building’s maintenance personnel need to ensure the lines stay full with water all the time, which provides efficient fire suppression.

You can get the wet pipe sprinkler system if you need a low-budget and low-maintenance fire sprinkler system.

Dry Sprinkler Systems

Dry Pipe Fire Protection System

If you don’t want to get the building’s interior wet, you can go for the dry sprinkler system. It uses pressurized air or nitrogen within the pipes. These are usually located in a heated space.

The dry-pipe valve stops water from passing through the pipes until a fire erupts and causes one or several sprinklers to turn on and extinguish the fire. When a fire happens, the air exits, and the dry-pipe valve releases.

Pre-Action Fire Sprinkler Systems

You can say that the pre-action fire sprinkler system works and looks the same as dry sprinkler systems. They don’t hold water inside the sprinkler pipes, and it also gets filled with compressed air or nitrogen.

The only difference between them is that pre-action fire sprinkler systems have a pre-action valve that controls the water flow. The water only passes through the pipes if the heat detectors or smoke alarms go off.

You can find them installed in specific locations such as data centers or libraries. These are used to prevent water damage caused by accidents.

Deluge Fire Sprinkler System

Lastly, you have the deluge fire sprinkler system that has open sprinkler heads and unpressurized piping. You connect the system to the nearest water supply and only activates when it detects smoke or heat.

It is the complete opposite of the wet pipe fire sprinkler system because the deluge fire system opens all of its sprinkler heads at once.

While it may not be an effective way of keeping other areas dry, you can best bet that it can extinguish the fire as quickly as possible, no matter where it starts.

Automatic fire sprinkler systems are typically installed during the construction of a building. Building owners can also fire suppression systems upgraded whenever they need to update their old systems or if their technicians find something faulty with the system.

Building owners also need to keep their fire sprinkler systems in top condition to ensure they follow the state’s relevant fire-safety codes.

Standpipe Systems

Standpipe System outside of a building

Another fire protection system that all contractors should know about is standpipe systems. They also act like a fire hydrant that you would usually see near sidewalks but is a fire hydrant located within the building.

A standpipe system has a series of interconnected pipes which lead to the water supply by utilizing hose connections. When the fire sprinkler system runs out, the firefighters can step in and extinguish the remaining fire.

Usually, building fires happen in higher building levels, which means that connecting their fire hoses to fire trucks or fire hydrants is impossible. That is when they will need to use the standpipe system and gain easy access to water and put out the fire as quickly as possible.

Fire system installers would usually place them in strategic locations that firefighters can easily reach and use at a moment’s notice. Examples of areas that contractors place them are in stairways, corners, behind walls, pillars, or any location as long as it doesn’t ruin the building’s aesthetics.

Standpipe systems are installed on every floor of a tall building because you will never know at which level the fire might happen.

Fire Alarms

Fire Alarm Trigger in Stairwell

When the building’s fire alarms detect a sudden increase in temperature, it will give off a loud sound either in the form of a siren or in a beep, depending on what alarm sound the building owner chooses.

The alarm also needs to be loud enough for everyone within the building to hear, no matter where a person is. Even if they are located in a conference room or a soundproof cubicle, the fire alarm sound must penetrate every surface to warn people about the fire.

And if ever a person detects a fire, they have the choice to pull the alarm trigger manually to set off the alarm. It is the best option for people to do instead of waiting for the smoke or heat detectors to go off since systems cannot necessarily perceive fires, unlike humans.

They can only detect when the smoke gets too thick or the temperature suddenly spikes. Anyone can set off the alarm whenever they need to.

Jake Gibson

CEO @ Phyxter and HVAC Guru

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Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

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