Common myths about fire sprinklers

Fire Sprinkler Closeup

Fire sprinkler systems have been saving lives and protecting property across the UK for over 100 years. Yet, despite their proven track record of safety and success, some common myths still surround their use.

At Applications Engineering, we are specialists in providing fire sprinkler technologies and products, and we frequently hear concerns from clients and consumers that are unfounded. Our goal here is to address the biggest myths and provide factual information to dispel any doubts about including these life-saving systems.

Properly installed and maintained, fire sprinklers are the single most effective method for combating fires in their earliest stages, before severe damage can occur – whether that’s in a business setting or in your home. However, they remain subject to unfair stigmas related to appearance, effectiveness, accidental discharge, and cost – all of which we will counter with facts from leading fire safety organisations and independent reports.

Myth: Fire sprinklers damage property by releasing too much water

Fact: Modern fire sprinkler systems are individually heat-activated directly over the fire source, suppressing flames precisely where needed. They rarely deploy fully and typically extinguish fires before significant damage occurs.

It has been estimated that the average fire sprinkler system in the UK discharges just 283 litres of water – roughly 6 bathtubs full. Installed correctly, sprinklers contain up to 99% of fire damage to the room of origin.

Myth: Fire sprinklers activate accidentally or malfunction frequently

Fact: Fire sprinklers are strictly engineered safety mechanisms that rarely activate without cause. The likelihood of accidental discharge or malfunction from a properly installed and maintained system is virtually zero according to fire safety organisations.

The risk of unwanted sprinkler release in any given year is less than 1 in 16 million. This is an incredible safety standard. Strict regulations and guidelines require rigorous testing, inspections and certification to prevent failure.

Two conditions must be met to activate a single sprinkler head: heat at the sprinkler head must reach its rated temperature, and the sprinkler head must have direct exposure to a heat source. General room temperatures will not trigger the entire system. Excessive ambient heat is required and activates one sprinkler at a time.

Accidental pipe bursts can discharge water but do not constitute a system malfunction. They rarely activate sprinkler heads themselves. All piping and components are built to avoid rust, corrosion and withstand building collapse for utmost reliability.

Myth: Fire sprinklers damage the appearance and decor of homes and buildings

Fact: Modern fire sprinklers are intentionally designed to be unobtrusive and blend in with surroundings when not in use. Their visual impact is minimal to non-existent in most cases. Addressing concerns that fire sprinklers will ruin aesthetics is unwarranted given how discreet they actually are.

Fire sprinklers remain concealed within the ceiling until heat activates them. Only the sprinkler head is visible, which is intentionally designed to be as understated as possible. Sprinkler heads come in finishes like white, chrome, brass or can be painted to match ceilings. For those wanting to further obscure even dormant sprinkler heads, decorative cover plates provide an affordable option to seamlessly blend them into any interior design or ceiling.

The notion that sprinklers must be an eyesore is outdated and no longer valid given advancements focused on unobtrusive yet efficient systems for any application. Their visibility during normal operation is minimal to nil in most properties. A few small sprinkler heads sporadically placed in ceilings pose little aesthetic impact, especially compared to the destruction caused by fires they can suppress.

If you are interested in having a fire sprinkler system installed, Applications Engineering specialises in providing high quality parts. Please get in contact with our experienced team today if you would like to learn more.

Filed under: Advice and Information