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Fire Sprinkler Systems 

Automatic fire sprinkler systems are widely regarded as one of the most effective and reliable methods of controlling a fire to safeguard both people and property.

Argus Fire Protection has over 100 years of combined experience with the design, on-going service, maintenance, testing and compliance management of fire sprinkler systems. We are able to offer tailored and cost effective solutions utilising the latest technology and complying with a range of local and international standards and codes.

How Sprinklers Work

For a typical fire sprinkler system sprinklers are installed across the ceiling at a regular spacing throughout the protected building and connected to a water piping network that is constantly filled with water under pressure.

Each fire sprinkler is held closed by a thermal element. This is usually a small glass bulb filled with a colour coded fluid that expands when heated. When there is a fire below the fire sprinkler, the heat makes the fluid inside the glass bulb expand, just as it does in a thermometer.

At a set temperature (the rated activation temperature of the sprinkler) there is no more room for the fluid to expand and so it breaks the bulb. The water seal then falls away and the sprinkler starts to spray water onto the fire below.
Only the sprinklers located above the fire that have been heated to above their activation temperature will operate. Records show that 65% of fires are controlled by the operation of a single sprinkler and that 95% of fires are controlled by the operation of five or fewer sprinklers1. The sprinklers do not react to smoke.

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How Fire Sprinkler Systems Work

The simplest, most common and most reliable type of automatic fire sprinkler system is a Wet Pipe sprinkler system.

A Wet Pipe fire sprinkler system consists of a piping network supplying automatic sprinklers spaced throughout the protected building. The piping network is permanently charged with water under pressure.

When a sprinkler is operated water is discharged onto the fire and the flow of water is detected at the sprinkler control valves, causing a signal to be sent to the fire service.
Other types of fire sprinkler systems are available to suit specific applications such as Preaction, Dry and Deluge.

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Reliability

Since the first fire sprinkler systems were installed in New Zealand in the late 1880s, approved sprinklers have achieved their function of controlling fires in better than 99.5% of fires in which they have operated2.

A common misconception is that sprinklers accidentally activate with monotonous regularity. This is not the case, the rate of faulty activation according to the Insurance Council of New Zealand is of the range of one in 16 million sprinklers which is much lower than the chances of a fire occurring in any given building3.

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References

1. Fire Protection Association New Zealand Inc., Fire Sprinklers, Retrieved 2008, http://www.fireprotection.org.nz/sprinklers.htm

2. NZS4541:2007 - Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems, Standards New Zealand, Standards Council, 2007.

3. New Zealand Fire Service, Building Safety: Engineering FAQ's, Retrieved 2008, http:// www.fire.org.nz/building/faq/engineering_faq.htm

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