There are two major categories of fire sprinkler systems being used today: Control-Mode and Suppression.
Control-Mode Sprinkler Systems
Most facilities use a control-mode sprinkler system. Control-mode systems are rated to “control” a fire until firefighters can come and put out the fire. While in some cases control-mode systems can actually put out fires, they are not rated or engineered to do that reliably.
Suppression (ESFR) Sprinkler Systems
Suppression sprinkler systems are also referred to as Early Suppression, Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler systems. These systems are designed not to just control a fire but to actually extinguish a fire and lessen the danger to firefighters and occupants. They release a higher volume of water (three to five times more), at a higher PSI, and with a larger pellet size (or droplet size) than control-mode systems. Suppression systems also use sprinkler heads that are larger and more industrial-looking than those found in most office buildings.
Suppression systems can be used in many situations, but are commonly used in what are considered higher occupancy hazard situations found in warehouses. These are defined by National Fire Protection Association 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, and include warehouses with 35’ racks and 40’ high ceilings or those storing highly combustible materials such as tires or plastics.
Suppression systems have been around since the late 1980s. They have become increasingly popular over the years since their cost has been coming down, and they help to alleviate the need for in-rack sprinkler systems. Sprinklers installed in warehouse storage racks are easily damaged and can be troublesome to warehouse operators, especially if the racks need to be moved around. When new warehouses are being designed or when warehouses are being renovated, a suppression system should be strongly considered since it offers flexibility in what can be stored and may make the building more marketable.
Ryan Fireprotection personnel are experts in installing suppression systems. Due to the special requirements of these systems, the costs can be higher than control-mode systems. Sometimes they may also require that a fire pump be installed. When an insurance company requires a warehouse operator to install a suppression system, Ryan Fireprotection understands the importance of keeping costs down and will evaluate the situation to determine if money can be saved with a mixed system. In some cases, a suppression system can be installed next to a control-mode system if draft curtains are also installed. However, this is determined on a case-by-case basis. Contact Ryan Fireprotection to schedule an expert evaluation and receive recommendations regarding a suppression sprinkler system installation.