History of Fire Sprinklers.
The first automatic sprinkler system was patented in 1874, and consisted of a network of wooden pipes with a series of holes drilled along their length and filled with pressurized water. The system was activated by the heat of a fire. A valve at one end of the pipe would open, allowing water to rush through and spray out the other end.
The system was designed by American inventor C.E. Smith who also patented it. It is credited as being ‘the first automatic sprinkler system ever invented’ and was installed in the piano factory of Henry Parmalee in Tarrytown, New York.
Smith’s invention proved to be a success and was widely used in America for over fifty years, gradually becoming more sophisticated as the years progressed. It was used for many decades in theatres and other public buildings where large amounts of water were needed to tackle fires. In some American cities, such as New York City, it remained the only form of fire protection until the mid-20th century.
In modern times, however, the system has been superseded by a larger and more efficient sprinkler system utilizing pressurized air, which operates on a slightly different principle.
Types of Sprinkler Systems
- Wet Sprinkler System
- Dry Sprinkler System
- Deluge Sprinkler System
- Pre-Action Sprinkler System
Parts of a sprinkler system can include:
- OS&Y- Outside Stem and Yoke
- PIV- Post Indicator Valve
- Main Control Valve- Controls water for whole system
- Main Drain- Drains System
- Inspector Test- Tests system
- Alarms- Waterflow or Air AlarmsThe above is an example of the parts involved. A lot of people call this all “sprinklers” but it’s more than that. It’s made up of many tiny parts, each with a specific job to do. If any one of those tiny parts fail, entire system will fail. And that’s why it’s important to keep everything in good working order.
Components of a Sprinkler System
- Underground brings water from the Mains to your building
- Water is then sent through a backflow
- All Systems require a hydrant connection AS 2419.1:2017 “Fire hydrant installations System design, installation and commissioning” to increase the water pressure during a fire.
- Enters either the fire pump where it is pumped to a certain pressure, or is released into the Riser
- Risers “rise” vertically through the floors to feed the Branch Lines
- Branch Lines then extend off the Risers and Mains horizontally to bring water to all the sprinkler heads
A wet-pipe system is a fire sprinkler system in which the water supply is piped to the sprinklers through a piping system that is always under pressure. The piping from the water supply to the sprinkler heads is open only during a fire alarm, when a valve opens to allow water to flow into the system. The valve closes when there is no longer any need for water, eliminating wasted water and saving on operation costs. Wet-pipe systems are by far the most common type of fire sprinkler systems found in buildings today.
Deluge valves are a type of sprinkler used in areas where a high volume of water is needed to put out a fire. Smoke and heat detection open the valve, which releases the water onto the area that needs to be extinguished.
The deluge valve can be used in areas that need large volumes of water fast to extinguish a fire. They’re commonly used in large warehouses and parking garages.
The deluge valve is also called a smoke tube or a wet pipe system. It has a separate pipe from the sprinkler heads that extends all the way up to the ceiling, where it opens when smoke or heat activates a switch. The water flows down from the ceiling and hits the fire hard, preventing it from spreading.
When installed properly, these systems can provide an excellent defense against fires that may occur in your building, but they have some disadvantages as well:
They require a lot of space because they have to release jets of water from above. If you’re using this system in a small building, you may get better results with another type of sprinkler system. In very large buildings, however, they can deliver exactly what you need for effective fire suppression.
Deluge systems can be expensive to install — much more than other types of sprinklers
Dry Sprinkler System
The air from the compressor is connected to the pipes by a metal pipe called a Manifold. A manifold is a valve network of valves and lines, that allows the air to be distributed throughout the system.
The air pressure is enough to keep a rubber flapper or rubber disk called a clapper valve shut.
If fire breaks out in the building, and a sprinkler head is activated, water will be released through the sprinkler head, and it will push its way down the branch line, but it will not open the clapper valve because of the air pressure from the compressor.
This system was developed by John J. Nissen who owned a manufacturing company in Rochester New York in 1906. He developed this system when he observed that when you release a fire hose nozzle from a hydrant, if someone else hits that same hydrant at the same
The Pre-action system is a dry system (without water) where water is held back by an electronically operated valve, which will release when it senses smoke or flames.
When the sprinkler head is activated it releases the water onto the ceiling.
A fire can be extinguished in its early stages with a pre-action system.
A pre-action system is used when there are electrical components in the ceiling area.
The main advantage of a pre-action system is that there are no sprinkler heads activated in the area of the fire. This prevents false alarms being set off by heat or steam in normal operation. Also, in areas where ceilings are close to sprinkler heads, they can be damaged by heat from the fire, preventing them from operating normally. This also stops any damage being done to adjacent areas which are not on fire.
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