Fire Prevention & Protection

SPRINKLERS: INTERPRETING THE STATISTICS

Issue 1 and Volume 160.

BY RICHARD R. LICHT Automatic sprinkler systems are highly regarded as an effective fire protection tool that can reduce loss of life and property damage in a fire. Based on reliability figures and statistics provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the National Fire Sprinkler Association, and other groups interested in the subject of sprinkler performance, architects and building owners are relying more heavily on automatic sprinkler systems. This trend is driven by the level of confidence designers and building owners place on sprinkler reliability. However, before you can evaluate statistics purporting to show sprinkler reliability, you must understand how sprinklers are intended to operate and what can be expected from their operation. Automatic fire sprinklers are individually heat-activated and tied into a network of piping with water under pressure. When the heat of a fire raises the sprinkler temperature to its operating point (usually 165°F), a solder link…

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