Fire Prevention & Protection, Firefighting

Sprinklers Made Simple

Issue 1 and Volume 168.

By Ron Kanterman Whether you’ve been on the line for one year or 25 years and have not had the time to understand sprinkler systems basics, this article is for you. Frederick Grinnell, a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, worked in railroad engineering until he retired as chief mechanical engineer and general manager of the Jersey City Locomotive Works. Soon after his retirement, he purchased a controlling interest in the Providence Steam and Gas Pipe Company. Grinnell already knew Henry S. Parmalee, who patented the first automatic fire sprinkler head in 1874. Providence Steam & Gas partnered with Parmalee and manufactured the Parmalee sprinkler. Grinnell also designed and erected the piping installations into which the Parmalee sprinkler heads were fitted. Grinnell improved Parmalee’s first practical automatic sprinkler and patented his own Grinnell sprinkler in 1882. Continual improvements resulted in the glass disc sprinkler in 1890. With slight modifications, this sprinkler…

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