Question: What should I know about fire sprinklers?



The Rockland F.D. wholeheartedly believes in fire sprinklers. The combination of fire sprinklers and smoke detection has been proven nationally to provide the highest margin of safety to humans from fire. There is a lot of misunderstanding about fire sprinklers, such as:

  • Myth #1: All sprinkler heads activate at once: In almost every case this is untrue. Fire sprinklers are designed to activate when the individual sprinkler head reaches a specific temperature. The activation of one head often suppresses the fire preventing further heating of other heads. Unlike fires in Hollywood movies and on television, sprinklers do not activate when smoke detectors go off or fire alarm systems are activated. The only thing that will activate a fire sprinkler is heat.
  • Myth #2: Insurance companies charge more for fire sprinklers due to potential water damage: The Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office conducted a survey of most major insurance carriers in Maine and found that not one raised their rates for buildings or homes equipped with fire sprinklers. In fact they found that the majority of insurance carriers fully recognized the benefit of sprinklers and gave an average discount of 15% on fire insurance premiums.
  • Myth #3: There will be significant water damage if the sprinkler system activates: Most sprinkler heads only discharge 13-30 gallons of water per minute and most activations are limited to 1-3 heads for a total of 13 to 120 gallons of water per minute. Consider that if a fire occurs the sprinkler is like having a firefighter with a charged hose directly in the room with the fire and it will begin extinguishing the fire in less than two minutes. Without a sprinkler, fire can grow rapidly, frequently doubling in size every minute until someone arrives with a hose to begin suppressing it. This means the fire must be discovered, 911 must be activated, the F.D. must respond (our average time is 4.5 minutes from the time 911 is called), the crew must deploy a fire hose and begin fighting the fire. In this time the fire will have grown significantly and generally cause significant damage. The fire department’s hoses flow 150-180 gallons of water per minute. So we can conclude that without a fire sprinkler, the fire will be larger and require more water to extinguish, with damage being far greater all around.  This also does not account for the safety of the occupants, who will have had much safer conditions in which to escape from the building with sprinklers present.

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) is an excellent resource on the topic and hosts powerful video footage showing the benefits of sprinkler systems. We strongly urge everyone to learn how these systems can ensure your quality of life for years to come.

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