Types of Fire Sprinkler Systems

A fire sprinkler system is an active fire protection measure, consisting of a water supply system, providing adequate pressure and flowrate to a water distribution piping system, onto which fire sprinklers are connected. Although historically only used in factories and large commercial buildings, systems for homes and small buildings are now available at a cost-effective price.

Common Types of Sprinkler Systems

By a wide margin, wet pipe sprinkler systems are installed more often than all other types of fire sprinkler systems. They also are the most reliable, because they are simple, with the only operating components being the automatic sprinklers and (commonly, but not always) the automatic alarm check valve. An automatic water supply provides water under pressure to the system piping.

Dry pipe systems are also a common sprinkler system type. Used mostly in places where freezing could occur. Dry pipe systems are most often found in unheated buildings, in parking garages, in outside canopies attached to heated buildings (in which a wet pipe system would be provided), or in refrigerated coolers.

Preaction Sprinkler Systems are commonly used in environments that can damage equipment/electronics. Water is active to the bottom of the Preaction Valve and compressed air is sometimes used in the protected area’s piping above the valve. The preaction valve will let water flow into the piping after a detection system activates a releasing solenoid. These systems are commonly activated through smoke detectors, heat detectors, loss of pressure in system piping or a combination of 2 or more conditions.

Deluge Sprinkler Systems are commonly used in Flammable liquid handling/storage areas, Petroleum/Chemical Plants, and Aircraft Hangers. Water is active to the bottom of the Deluge Valve and the protected area’s piping often have open sprinkler heads. The deluge valve will let water flow into the piping after a detection system activates a releasing solenoid. These systems are commonly activated through smoke detectors, heat detectors, loss of pressure in system line detection piping. When the system is equipped with open heads, all heads will flow when the valve is operated.

Foam Sprinkler Systems suppress fire by separating the fuel from the air that allows it to burn. Depending on the foam system, it is done in several ways:

  • Foam creates a blanket on the fuel surface, smothering the fire
  • The fuel is cooled by the water and foam content
  • The blanket of foam suppresses the release of flammable vapors that can ignite