Grand Rapids Fire Protection

Fire Suppression Systems

A fire sprinkler system is a simple, but key, active component of a building’s fire protection system.

When designing a sprinkler system one of the first decisions a designer has to make is what type of sprinkler system should be installed. When selecting the appropriate sprinkler system type it is important to first understand the differences between the systems and then to understand how these differences can be beneficial, or detrimental, under certain conditions.

Wet & Dry Sprinkler Systems

In a wet pipe fire sprinkler system, the most common type in residential buildings, cold water is stored under pressure in the pipes and is released immediately by sprinkler heads when the predetermined heat level is reached.

Dry pipe sprinkler systems take slightly longer to activate and are used in unheated/unoccupied buildings where pipes may freeze and burst. Nitrogen gas or pressurized air is stored in the pipes, connected to a water storage tank or main. On activation by a fire, the air leaks out of the pipes, causing the water to flow through the pipes to the sprinkler heads.

Pre-Action Sprinkler Systems

Pre-action sprinkler systems are a combination of wet and dry pipe systems, typically used in areas at high-risk of water damage. Water is not stored in the pipes until a fire is detected, when the water is released to the sprinkler heads. The response time is as fast as a standard wet pipe sprinkler system. Automatic fire sprinkler systems are also available and are effective in large areas such as offices and shopping centers.

Deluge Sprinkler Systems

Deluge sprinkler systems are typically used in areas where rapid fire damage is a major concern, such as warehouse loading bays and high-rise buildings. In these systems, the nozzle is always open. They are triggered by an alarm that opens a water release valve.

Foam Sprinkler Systems

Foam sprinkler systems are a type of wet sprinkler system that combines both water and a foaming agent for large scale fire extinguishment. With incredible efficiency this type of system can extinguish extensive fires within seconds. You would find these types of systems in large areas where there is a lot of flammable or combustible liquids. It works by separating the fuel from the oxygen. The foam smothers or blankets the surface of the fuel. The water content of the foam then cools the fuel and the area of foam covering the fuel to prevent reignition via flammable vapors.

Backflow Preventer

A backflow preventer is a device that’s installed on your buildings water pipes that allows water to flow in one direction but never in the opposite direction. Its sole job is to prevent drinking water from being contaminated due to backflow.

When water enters your property from the main water supply line, it should only ever flow in one direction: into your building. But sometimes, due to pressure changes in the pipes, that water can actually flow backwards and seep back into the main water supply line. For example, backflow can happen when there’s a break in the main water line or when a fire hydrant is opened for use. Because pressure is lost during these events, water is no longer being pushed forward into your building and will flow backwards into the city water lines. And when this happens, backflow can contaminate the public drinking supply.

To help prevent malfunctions these devices should be routinely inspected and tested.

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