Pacific Fire Systems Inc.

FAQ About Fire Sprinkler Systems

Phone: (858) 883-2333


Fax: (858) 883-2334 



License #: C16-895722

Address: 12316 Oak Knoll Rd. Suite B
               Poway, CA  92064

Quick Info:

How do fire sprinklers operate?
Piping is installed behind the walls, just like regular plumbing. This piping keeps water ready in case of fire. Sprinklers are attached to the pipes - in the ceiling or on the side walls. Sometimes they have special covers on them which helps them blend in to the ceiling.

Fire sprinklers are made so they turn on when a fire raises the temperature near the sprinkler. Most fire sprinklers turn on at 155°F - 286°F.

Fire sprinklers are not like smoke alarms. They do not turn on when there is smoke in the room. Fire sprinklers can only turn on when a fire raises the temperature. And each fire sprinkler works on its own. They do not spray water all together.

When a fire starts, a plume of hot gases rise to the ceiling. If a sprinkler is present, a glass bulb or solder link gets hot and at a specific temperature breaks releasing a cap and allowing water to flow onto a specially designed diffuser. The diffuser breaks up the water flow into carefully controlled droplets, which penetrate the fire plume and cool the burning material below its ignition point, thus putting out the fire with only sprinkler/s directly over the fire are operated.

The sprinklers are connected to pipework, usually filled with water, which is supplied either from the water mains or from a storage tank via a pump. When a sprinkler operates the flow of water in the pipework operates a flow switch, which in turn operates an alarm system. The flow of water is small, usually less than 1/100th the water used by the Fire Department for extinguishing a fire. Sprinklers do not go off accidentally and are only triggered by real fires. Sprinklers are very reliable and only 1 in 16,000,000 exhibit any form of manufacturing defect.

Why are fire sprinklers so effective?
All fires start small and, if detected and tackled early enough, can be controlled with very little water. The latest sprinkler systems use a special type of fast response fire sprinkler, which responds very quickly to a fire and is completely automatic in operation. The system can therefore tackle a fire at a very early stage, even if no one is around, releasing water directly over the source of the fire and sounding an alarm. 

How reliable are fire sprinkilers?

Records show that between 1886 and 1986 fire sprinklers controlled 99.7% of all fires where they were fitted.


Do fire sprinkilers go off accidentally?  

No! Records in service show that sprinklers are very dependable. The chance of a defective head is less than 1:16,000,000 - less than your chance of winning the Lottery! The chance of an accidental discharge is considerably less.


Do fire sprinkilers go off all together?  

No! Each sprinkler reacts individually to a fire so only the sprinkler nearest the fire will open. If that is not sufficient to control the fire then the next nearest will open, and so on. In over 95% of cases only one sprinkler operates and this is enough to control or extinguish the fire.


How about water damage?  

Typically a sprinkler discharges 60l/min. A fireman's hose on the other hand discharges 1000+ liters a minute. In general a sprinkler system will use between 1/100th and 1/1000th of the water used by the Fire Department. Even then, most things that get wet can be restored - but a pile of ashes is beyond hope.

Can I install fire sprinklers myself?  

No. Only qualified and experienced contractors, with a state issued fire sprinkler contractors license, should install fire sprinklers. They will know how to design and install the system in compliance with national standards, which will ensure that the spacing is correct and the water supply adequate. Also, fire sprinklers have different operating temperatures and flow patterns. You need someone knowledgeable who can select the correct sprinkler for each area of the structure.

What do I do if there is a fire?  

Just get yourself and anyone else out of the building and call the Fire Department. Fire Sprinklers will do the rest. They are fully automatic and will work even if there is a power failure. Leave the system running until the Fire Department deems it safe to turn it off. Although it may look like the fire is out, turning off the system too soon may allow the fire to catch hold again.

Aren't fire sprinkilers unsightly?  

Fire Sprinklers come in all shapes and styles. Residential fire sprinklers are much smaller than ones that you see in stores and offices. All residential models come in colors to match popular ceiling and wall colors, and manufacturers will even custom-paint them for you. Many models are partially recessed into the ceiling with about 1/4"-3/4" below the ceiling. If you want them completely recessed, these models are also available. They are hidden by a cover plate that is painted to match the ceiling. The cover is held in place by a metallic link that melts in a fire and exposes the sprinkler.It is common to find that visitors do not notice the sprinklers at all unless you point them out, even the ones that are not recessed into the ceiling.

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