How Do Fire Sprinklers Work?

When most people think about fire sprinklers, they think about the red handle found in almost every public building. Pulling this handle activates the sprinkler system and puts out the fire. But how do these systems work? How can a tiny little pipe put out a raging fire? In this blog post, we will discuss how fire sprinklers work and dispel some of the common myths.

Step 1: Fire Sprinklers Detect Heat

Fire sprinklers do not automatically activate when they detect smoke, contrary to popular belief. Because heat carries upward with smoke from a fire, it’s an easy mistake to make. However, simply setting your toast on fire in the business kitchen may be enough to trigger a fire sprinkler head and drench the kitchen with water.

Heat activates sprinkler systems, as with fire alarms and smoke detectors. Sprinkler systems work because high heat initiates them. When a fire starts, the air directly above it heats up rapidly. The heated air rises and travels along with the ceiling.

Step 2: Fire Sprinklers Douse The Fire

Each sprinkler head connects to a pipe that leads to a dependable water supply located outside the building. A valve opens when heat activates a sprinkler head, allowing pressurized water from the pipe system to flow out.

It’s critical for a fire sprinkler system’s water to be pressurized. This enables the water to arc out and douses the fire more effectively, preventing it from reigniting.

Step 3: Fire Sprinklers Minimize Water Damage

In films, sprinkler systems are employed deceptively, leading many people to believe that all the sprinklers in a system are linked together and that when one is triggered by heat, they all activate.

How Are They Installed?

Sprinklers are installed by experts who national and local codes and regulations have trained. The perfect time to install sprinklers is when you’re building a new home or renovating an old one. Installing sprinklers adds between one and two percent to the overall construction cost throughout the country. When retrofitting, installing sprinklers during remodeling generally costs more, and the expense depends on the existing structure. Many insurance providers provide homeowners with discounts based on their sprinkler system, making comparison shopping worthwhile.


There are several entrenched misconceptions about home fire sprinklers that may put off some homeowners from adding them to their homes. The following are the facts:

  • Sprinklers are rarely turned on by accident. Water damage in a typical home is generally less from accidental sprinkler discharges than from other plumbing problems.
  • A sprinkler cannot operate because of cigar smoke or burnt bread. The activation of a sprinkler is only caused by the high temperature that occurs as a result of a fire.
  • Sprinklers do not activate at the same time. This fabricated scenario appears in movies and TV shows, but it isn’t true for home fire sprinklers. The sprinkler closest to the fire activates only 90 percent of the time. Only one sprinkler activates during 90 percent of situations.

Fire sprinklers provide you with further protection from fire and peace of mind. NFPA endorses their usage. Ask your builder whether he or she can install sprinklers in your home.

Need fire extinguisher services too? Contact Fire-Alert today to see how we can help!