Choosing The Right Fire Sprinkler Systems

Posted on: 20 March 2015


Fire sprinklers have revolutionized the building industry. They are inconspicuous and are always there when you need them—at which point they save lives and property with an incredibly high success rate. Different property and materials have different requirements, so there's a variety of systems in use that are specially tailored to cater to each application. Wet and dry systems currently dominate the market, but some specific approaches deal with more particular and less-common situations. While even more obscure variations exist, only the three systems most commonly used are included below.  

Wet Pipes:

Wet-pipe systems are the most common commercial use fire sprinkler system. This type consists of steel pipes that are always filled with a payload of pressurized water. Wet pipe systems are not only the least expensive method around, but they're also the most reliable and responsive systems currently available. Unfortunately, the design doesn't lend itself well to to freezing temperatures or places that are sensitive to moisture or leaks.  

Dry Pipes:

Dry-pipe systems maintain a constant pressure in the pipes, similar to wet-pipe systems. However, that's where the similarities end. Dry pipe systems fill the pipes with pressurized air instead of pressurized water. The system vents pressurized air on activation, and uses the vacuum to draw a large amount of water through the sprinklers in order to put out a fire.

This type of system takes care of the risk of leaks and frozen pipes inherent in wet-pipe systems, with the downside of a significantly longer wait time. They also have higher maintenance and installation costs due to the increased complexity. An important feature to take note of is that some of these have the flexibility to be cycled on-demand between both wet and dry systems. This basically consists of the pipes being filled with pressurized water during warm weather and converted to pressurized air when the seasons bring colder weather. These combine for the best of both but also have a higher installation cost due to the additional equipment.


As a variant of dry pipe systems, pre-action systems have two sensors that must go off before they act to extinguish a fire—such as heat detectors and smoke detectors. If one is triggered, an alarm will activate, but the only way water will flow is if the second one is also activated. This acts as a reliable fail-safe to protect against misfires and the unnecessary damage that they can cause in moisture-sensitive places, such as archives or museums.

For more information about the sprinklers that are best for your needs, talk with a fire protection company like Nor Cal Fire Protection.