Sprinkler General FAQ

General FAQ’s

Common questions and misconceptions regarding fire sprinkler systems fitted in homes in the UK:

1. “Do they go off by mistake?”

Each sprinkler head is individually activated and only activates when the temperature below it reaches a predetermined level – around 68 degrees centigrade

2. “Don’t they all go off at the same time and flood the property?”

This is an easy mistake to make. Each sprinkler head has a heat sensitive element, that triggers the devise nearest to the heat and in 85% of cases will extinguish the fire. If one head doesn’t achieve this then an additional head will in virtually all cases.

3. “Don’t fire sprinklers do a lot of damage to furniture and fixtures?”

Obviously, they do considerably less damage than a fire would do if left unchecked. Even if the Fire service arrived before the property had been destroyed, they would create much more water damage due to the high quantity of water required at that point of the fire.

4. “Isn’t the water damage as bad as fire damage?”

There are plenty of statistics available to prove that water damage is considerably less than that of the fire and also that the water damage from a sprinkler system is far less than that created by attending Fire services.

5. “Are fire sprinklers more effective than smoke alarms?”

Statistics show that your chances of surviving a domestic fire are approximately 60% if the property has smoke detectors fitted. This rises to around 95% if the property has a domestic fire sprinkler system installed.


6. “Are they used in other countries?”

They are popular in North America, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe.

7. “If I want to test my smoke detector I press a button but how do I test a fire sprinkler?”

You can’t test an individual sprinkler head once installed for obvious reasons but all heads are individually tested during manufacture. The water pressure and flow requirement of the system is calculated at the time of installation and this can then be verified by ‘equivalence testing’ from a test point in the system.

8. “I would worry about accidental activation when smoke/heat drifts from the process of cooking.”

Again, this is confusing smoke sensors with heat sensors which are used with sprinkler systems. The heat generated by cooking and open fires will not trigger a sprinkler head because they are placed in a position that takes heat sources into consideration. There is a 1 in 16 million chance of these heat sensors false triggering.

9. “Aren’t most people killed by smoke rather than fire?”

This is true however in most cases the fire would be controlled at an early stage resulting in less combustion. Also the water droplets considerably reduce the amount of smoke emission.

10. “How can you prevent false triggering?”

People assume that because smoke alarms tend to go off frequently, fire sprinkler heads will do the same. Sprinkler heads do not trigger accidentally because it is only the direct heat from a fire that can activate a sprinkler head. This occurs at around 68 degrees C.

11. “If water goes on a fat fire, won’t it make the fire worse?”

The last thing anybody should do to a fat fire is to introduce water to it. However the deluge of water that is delivered from a sprinkler head can cause a slight increase in combustion initially followed by a complete extinction of the fire as the flames are starved of oxygen by the quantity of water.

12. “If the sprinkler system were to go off while I was on holiday, how long would it go on for?”

This is a good question. In fact, all residential fire sprinkler and domestic fire sprinkler systems have a control circuit which activates sounders in the property. In addition to this, BS 9251 states that there should be a sounder and strobe mounted on the outside of the building which is labelled fire and will alert anyone to the fact that there is, or has been a fire in the property. INTEGRAL FIRE SPRINKLERS LTD offer a text messaging service via the premises alarm If Fitted. CLICK HERE