Do fire alarms trigger fire sprinklers?
Many people believe that fire alarms trigger fire sprinklers, however, this is a pervasive myth. In fact, fire alarms and fire sprinklers are very different parts of an important system and they are designed to act as their name suggests. A typical fire sprinkler head in a fire sprinkler system is actually individually activated when exposed to heat in excess of 155 to 165 degrees F. The smoke alarms only provide an audible warning sound and do not trigger the fire sprinklers themselves.
The Purpose of Fire Sprinklers
Fire sprinklers are designed to detect heat and respond by discharging water. While smoke is an obvious cause for concern, it does not necessarily mean that there is a fire (or even significant heat) and thus discharging water at the first signs of smoke may not even be helpful. When considering the implications of this it’s easy to see why it’s a good thing. If you accidentally burned something in the oven the last thing you want is a deluge of water from the ceiling.
Fire sprinklers are an asset when it comes to saving property and life during a fire, however, they are not an early detection system like a smoke detector. Fire sprinklers are designed to respond to an active fire and not the impending signs of one. In most systems, the fire heads are triggered individually which is very helpful at dousing fires at the locations they occur – thus limiting excessive water damage.
The Purpose of a Smoke Alarm
Smoke alarms are a way to detect a fire very early on, when there are little to no flames but excessive smoke. The alarm system will sound giving inhabitants enough time to seek safety or respond to the fire. This may sound disappointing that all a fire alarm does is alert, however, the damages resulting from fire sprinklers if they activated at every false alarm would be significant. Smoke alarm systems rely on the people around them to identify a possible problem and respond accordingly.
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