Most types of Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems operate in much the same way:
- a network of pressurised water runs through a building with sprinkler heads spaced throughout
- upon the event of a fire, a heat sensitive element within the sprinkler head breaks allowing water to flow through that single head immediately in the vicinity of the fire
- the resultant drop in water pressure will sound alarm and initiate water supply
- should the resultant flow of water not prevent the spread of the fire, another head will operate, then another and another until the growth of the fire is controlled or, in some cases, extinguished.
The supply of water to an Automatic Sprinkler System is generally from one of two sources:
- Direct from the Town’s Mains Water Supply
- A Water Storage Tank and Fire Pump(s).
Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly uncommon to be able to supply a commercial or industrial sprinkler system directly from the Town’ Mains Water Supply because Water Authorities will not guarantee a minimum flow and pressure.
Fire Pumps and Water Storage Tanks are increasingly becoming the norm, however tank capacities can often be reduced if a decent water supply is available.
One of world’s biggest fire losses took place at the Ford factory warehouse in Cologne, Germany in 1977. Following is a short documentary ‘Burning Questions’ written and directed By Jon Danzig’, that highlights the importance of the Building User’s responsibility for operating within the design parameters of the Sprinkler System and the disastrous results than can occur should significant changes to storage methods be made.