Updated: Jan 21, 2022
APRIL SHOWERS BRING FLOWERS IN THE MONTH OF MAY - AND ALSO BUILDING PROTECTION
As they say, April showers bring May flowers; we just hope those showers stay on the outside of your building. However, if you happen to need your indoor showers (sprinkler systems and fire suppression systems), it's best to understand what methods serve your specific building's needs. For example, deluge vs Pre Action Sprinkler Systems—what's the difference? —–When it comes to fire protection for your building, there are many options to consider, and it's essential to understand what these options may entail.
WHAT IS A DELUGE SYSTEM?
Deluge suppression systems are typically used in unique hazard installations when water must be applied to an entire area for fire protection. These systems are considered a 'dry fire protection system' as the piping is empty and at atmospheric pressure with the sprinkler heads all open. When the system detects heat or fire, the deluge valve releases the water, dry chemicals, inert gases, or foam.
The type of agent used in the systems depends on the fire protection system's hazard type and location. Once filled, it releases from all sprinkler heads simultaneously, which helps to blanket the entire area, which, in turn, controls the fire.
These systems are typically used for facilities where an entire area needs to be protected immediately, rather than by a zone or specific location of the source of the heat or fire. Typical facilities that utilize deluge suppression systems are airport hangars, chemical plants, processing plants, and data storage centres. These systems are advantageous when quickly flood an area to prevent a fire from expanding.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DELUGE SYSTEMS?
There are a few different types of deluge systems. These systems can be electronically operated; others are pneumatic. The electronically operated systems work when an alarm is set off via a detector, pull station, or another alarm system. Once the alarm is activated, it will energize the solenoid valve, which releases the prime water or other agents off the top of the valve, allowing the deluge valve to trip and deliver the agent to the hazard.
Protecting High Hazard Areas with Deluge Systems
Deluge systems are generally used when an entire area needs to be protected immediately instead of by zone or location of the source of heat or fire. This system is used most typically for:
Data Storage Units, and more.
A deluge sprinkler system works well in protecting high hazard areas that could cause deadly fires because of its ability to quickly flood a room to prevent the fire from expanding.
PRE-ACTION SPRINKLER SYSTEMS
WHAT IS A PRE-ACTION SPRINKLER SYSTEM?
On the other hand, pre-action sprinkler systems protect areas where water damage from broken sprinklers or piping needs to be avoided. These are middle ground between dry and wet fire protection systems.
The significant difference between a deluge suppression system and a pre-action system is that pre-action systems are filled with compressed air. The sprinkler heads remain closed until needed, and a pre-action valve holds back the water. It is a hybrid dry/wet system as it is a dry system until it is activated, at which point it becomes a wet system.
Pre-action fire sprinkler systems require two steps to discharge the agent. When the system first detects heat or fire, the pre-action valve opens. Next, the pipes are flooded with water, dry chemicals, inert gases, or foam. After it's filled, the specific sprinkler head must detect heat or fire to open. Then, the system will work to extinguish the fire in the immediate area.
Unlike deluge systems, these systems only cover an area that detects heat or fire. Coverage expands as more sprinkler heads detect heat/fire.
WHY WOULD YOU CHOOSE A PRE-ACTION SPRINKLER SYSTEM?
One of the best reasons to incorporate pre-action sprinkler systems into your building is because sprinkler heads may be falsely triggered. When these sprinkler heads accidentally activate, there may sometimes be costly, irreversible property and water damage to your building. In addition, because pre-action fire sprinkler systems require two-part discharge, they provide an elevated level of protection from accidental releases.
Another reason to utilize pre-action fire sprinkler systems is the ability of the pressurized air or nitrogen to detect leaks in the system. This allows you to ensure your system is functioning correctly when you need it most.
Pre-Action Systems for Water Sensitive Areas
Pre-action systems are also used when an accidental discharge of extinguishant could be detrimental. These systems are usually found in environments that are sensitive to water. Pre-action techniques are commonly used in:
Storage Rooms, and more.
WHAT OTHER SPRINKLER SYSTEMS SHOULD I CONSIDER?
There are a few other fire sprinkler systems to consider as you work to ensure your building remains protected.
WET PIPE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS
These systems are the most popular sprinkler systems. They are incredibly effective, low-cost, and low-maintenance. This system's pipes remain filled with water. Once triggered by the heat source, water flows through the activated sprinkler to the source of the fire. These systems are rapid to react to potential fires; however, they risk freezing in cold environments.
DRY PIPE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS
In freezing climates, dry pipe sprinkler systems are a better choice than wet pipe systems. This is because these systems do not carry water in the piping until they are activated.
Instead, these pipes are filled with pressurized air and nitrogen. Then, when the system is activated, the dry pipe valve opens, and water flows in when the sprinkler head is triggered.
The disadvantage of these systems is that their response time is delayed. Another potential downfall to these systems is the required maintenance. Sprinkler corrosion is more prevalent in these systems, as the compressed air and oxygen create an enticing environment for corrosion.
These systems require a single, preceding fire detection event. This event is typically an activation of heat or smoke detectors. When the event occurs, the pre-action valve allows water to enter the piping system. For example, if a sprinkler head activates before this, it will sound a trouble alarm with these systems. However, no water will be discharged.
Double interlock pre-action systems provide an added layer of protection. However, these systems require fire detection and an automatic sprinkler activation before water is released into the pipes. Therefore, one alarm activation will not be enough to discharge these sprinkler systems.
Are you looking for help solving your facility's fire protection system, fire fighting system, and fire safety issues? Installation, Service & Maintenance, Upgrading & Repair? Connecting with an experienced Fire Protection Consultant at PSB Fire Engineers can help. At PSB Fire Engineers, we understand that your unique building needs unique fire protection systems. Our team is equipped to ensure you receive the fire protection you need to keep your facility and people safe from harm.