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What Are ESFR Sprinkler Systems?

ESFR Sprinkler Systems: What Are They And How Do They Work?

ESFR sprinkler systems are designed to suppress fire at its earliest stage. They are often used in large warehouses or tank farms, where hazardous or combustible materials are stored. They have a far greater response time that conventional sprinkler systems, which allows them to put out fires at the very beginning stages. This is particularly important in large spaces, as it can prevent a fire from spreading quickly and causing extensive damage. ESFR sprinkler systems are also useful because they are able to extinguish fires that involve combustible and chemical materials. Conventional sprinklers are not able to do this, and they require special firefighting techniques to be used before they can contain the blaze. The other important feature of ESFR sprinklers is that they have a high sensitivity level, meaning that they can detect smaller fires much quicker than conventional systems.

In warehouses or tank farm facilities, where hazardous and/or combustible materials are stored, it is important that the sprinklers be capable of suppressing a fire at its very inception before the fire spreads throughout the facility. The Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler system meets this need by providing an immediate, large volume of water on the potential fire or explosion, thereby helping to control fire in its early stages and prevent further spread to other areas. 

Also Read: >>Warehouse dangerous Goods Storage<<



Easy Installation – ESFR sprinkler systems are designed for easy installation and maintenance in warehouses or tank farm facilities where hazardous and/or combustible materials are stored.

Low maintenance –

ESFRs require 20% less preventive maintenance compared with standard sprinklers.

Lower Cost –

Manufacturers offer an 8-12 year warranty on ESFR sprinklers compared to 5-7 for standard sprinklers, reducing replacement costs in the long run. ESFRs use up to 50 percent fewer sprinklers than conventional systems. This reduces capital costs, operational costs, and labor for installation and maintenance.

Higher reliability –

Even when installed in harsh environments and subjected to freezing temperatures, EFSRs maintain performance levels well above those of standard sprinklers.

More flexibility –

They also provide more flexibility with regards to system design, since it’s possible to install ESFRs in areas where conventional sprinklers cannot go.

Use include:

Large storage facilities, such as warehouses, tank farms and distribution centers
Steel industrial buildings with large open areas or high ceilings
Process plants with a large number of tanks or vessels containing flammable liquids,
ESFR sprinkler systems are used for a variety of applications including, but not limited to, supermarkets, restaurants, hospitals, computer rooms, shopping centers and storage facilities for hazardous or combustible materials.

Also Read: >>Installing and Maintaining a Warehouse Fire Sprinkler System<<

ESFRs differ from conventional sprinkler systems in the way they operate: Rather than discharging over a period of 15 to 30 minutes, they respond immediately to a fire by activating within 1½ to 3½ minutes. This enables them to protect large areas and high ceilings that conventional sprinklers can’t reach.

The components of an ESFR sprinkler system are similar to those of other sprinklers systems. The system consists of a water supply, sensing equipment, a control panel, piping, and sprinklers. The main difference between an ESFR sprinkler system and other systems is that an ESFR sprinkler system has its own water supply separate from the rest of the building’s water supply. That way if the main water supply to the building is cut off, there will still be enough water in the ESFR system for it to operate for up to two hours before the main system restarts.

ESFR sprinkler systems are fast response sprinkler systems that are used in areas where water damage can not be tolerated.
These types of sprinkler systems hold a lot of value because they have a very fast response time and can be used in warehouses, factories, oil tanks, and other enclosed spaces.

Suppression media:

The suppression media is the fluid that is held in the pipes inside of the sprinkler system. This media can be water or air depending on the type of sprinkler system being used (for example, conventional water based or dry pipe). In ESFR systems, this media can also be inert gases such as nitrogen to suppress fires.


Valves are important for controlling when and how much fluid flows through a system. They can be used to control and open or close a circuit as well as isolate it for maintenance purposes.


Pumps are one way to move fluids from one place to another. In the case of a fire sprinkler system, pumps will drain water from an overhead tank into pipes leading to sprinklers.


ESFR systems utilize two types of nozzles, one that sprays water into the air (called a ceiling nozzle) and another that sprays at floor level (called a wall nozzle). The nozzles operate independently, so if there is not sufficient water pressure, only the ceiling nozzles will open. In order to prevent early suppression system activation due to dust, dirt, insects or other foreign objects,
ESFR system manufacturers recommend installing Early Suppression Nozzle Deflectors (ESNDFs) on all sprinklers within the protected area. ESNDFs protect the sprinkler heads from damage caused by any object that may fall into them and deflect foreign objects away from the sprinkler head.

When fire sprinkler systems are designed and installed they are based on the type of building that they are protecting and the occupancy within. It is important that facilities understand the role of early suppression fast response sprinkler systems within their facility, and consider their installation as a viable option to protect their critical assets.

Need help? Contact one of our expert ESFR specialists today!

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