How Does A Fire Sprinkler Work?

How Does A Fire Sprinkler Work and How do Fire Sprinkler Systems Save Lives and Property

How Does a Fire Sprinkler Work?
How Do Fire Sprinkler Systems Save Lives and Property?

It is a proven fact that fire sprinkler systems are very important when it comes to fighting fires. They are actually so effective that death and property loss is 65% less in a building with fire sprinkler systems. But the question is how does a fire sprinkler work and how come they are so effective in firefighting?
Their effectiveness is one of the many reasons why we should have fire sprinklers in all commercial buildings. And not only. We should also have fire sprinkler systems in our homes. Imagine if all homes that caught on fire lately had fire sprinkler systems in place. People, property, and fire fighters would be safer.

And this brings us back to our questions: how does a fire sprinkler work? And how does the sprinkler system contain the fire? Does heat trigger a fire sprinkler? Or is smoke the trigger?

We are going to look at the picture of a fire sprinkler to understand what it's made of and what sets it off.

How Does A Fire Sprinkler Work

A fire sprinkler consists of:

  • Connecting Pipe Thread - connection to the water supply
  • Plug - upon activation, this plug frees the water
  • Glass Bulb filled with liquid - this bulb bursts at rated temperatures. The actual temperature depends on the sprinkler head type.
  • Sprinkler Deflector

How does a fire sprinkler work?

In order for a fire sprinkler to work as intended, it has to be part of a fire sprinkler system. To form a system, individual sprinklers are placed on a network of piping filled with water. Because the water is under pressure, we can say the fire sprinklers are always on standby.

Let's examine how fire sprinklers work step by step:

  1. Fire breaks out
  2. The air temperature above the fire raises
  3. When the temperature is high enough, the liquid-filled bulb bursts
  4. The sprinkler plug frees the water
  5. The sprinkler sprays water on the fire. Sometimes the fire is completely extinguished. Sometimes the sprinkler contains the fire, meaning it controls the heat and minimizes the amount of toxic smoke that develops.

Since the air temperature raises fast in a fire, the fire sprinkler is also activated fast. This is why fire sprinkler systems are so effective in controlling a fire. Or assisting fire fighters in combating fires.

Key Takeaways from our review of how a fire sprinkler works

  • Smoke does not activate fire sprinklers
  • Heat from a fire activates a fire sprinkler
  • Only the fire sprinkler closest to the fire activates and sprays water
  • The amount of water discharged by a fire sprinkler is minimal (10-15 gallons per minute). If this was not the case, we'd be trading fire damage with water damage. But that is not how a fire sprinkler works.
  • Fire sprinklers almost always extinguish the fire. If the fire is not extinguished, it is contained until the fire department arrives
  • Unlike what you've seen in movies, fire sprinklers don't all activate at once
  • Fire sprinklers are a great addition in residential buildings as well, not only commercial ones

In Conclusion

Fire sprinklers are effective in extinguishing or containing fire because they react fast after a fire breaks out. They reduce the risk of injury and death because they reduce the flames, heat and smoke of a fire. Fire sprinkler systems give people the time needed to evacuate the building. They reduce property damage because they contain or extinguish the fire before the fire department arrives. Fire sprinklers are one of the best tools we have to fight fires.


Inspecting. Testing. Maintenance.

Inspecting. Testing. Maintenance.

What's wrong with the picture above?

Don’t lose control of the situation when your fire protection system is impaired. Sprinklermatic has a 24 Hour Emergency Response TEAM that can get your system back in Service.

One Call Does It All (954.327.3686)

INSPECTING – TESTING – MAINTENANCE for fire protection systems and equipment

1. Fire Sprinklers

2. Fire Alarms:

3. Fire Extinguishers

4. Emergency Exit Lights

5. Fire Hydrants: Compliance with FS 633.082

6. Live Hands On Training: On site or at our Training facility- Sprinklermatic University

7. Fire Pumps:

8. Standpipes – Fire Hose valves – Fire Hoses

9. Engineered Life Safety System: Compliance with High Rise Retrofit Requirements FS 718.112(I)

10. Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC)

11. Temporary Fire Pump Trailer