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Fire Protection Contractors

Houston, Texas

HG Fire Systems, LP
15102 Sommermeyer
Suite 100
Houston, TX 77041

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Phone: 713-957-5171
Fax: 713-957-4144


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About Fire Protection and Fire Sprinkler

How Fire Sprinklers Work

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 home fire sprinklers turn on at about 135°F. If there is a special cover, it falls of at about 130°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 fire sprinklers turn on, they put water right on the flames. Only the sprinkler(s) closest to the fire will open and usually only one sprinkler is needed in home fires.

The sprinkler turns on very quickly. It turns on while the fire is still small. This controls or puts out the blaze. It limits the amount of heat and poison smoke made by the fire. That saves lives. In most home fires, the sprinkler will put out the fire before the fire department arrives. Then firefighters turn off the water supply.

How Sprinklers Work

Fire Sprinklers are simple devices that are individually operated directly by the heat from a fire.

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.

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.

Image of a Fire Sprinkler
This is a close-up view of a ceiling-mounted fire sprinkler. The exposed part (what you can see on the ceiling) of this sprinkler measures 1 5/8" long and 1 1/4" wide. Many residential fire sprinklers are recessed into the ceiling so that as little as 1/2" is visible and some are completely recessed and covered with flat caps that match the ceiling.
The threaded end at the top screws into a water pipe in the ceiling and is not visible from below.
The cap/seal prevents water from flowing out. The glass bulb holds the cap/seal in place
The glass bulb is filled with liquid and a small bubble.

Heat from a fire will expand the liquid and break the bulb. The cap/seal falls away and water will stream out. The water stream hits the deflector, which breaks it into a spray of tiny droplets, which cools the source of the fire thereby extinguishing it.

A sprinkler is similar to a hose nozzle because it breaks up the stream of water into a fine spray. A cap seals the waterway. The cap is held in place by either a glass bulb or two thin pieces of metal that are soldered together.

A fire creates a a narrow plume of hot air and gasses that rise to the ceiling and spread out. When the hot gases reach the nearest sprinkler they will heat the fusible element that holds the cap in place. The cap will fall away and the sprinkler will spray water on the fire. Because the water immediately cools the hot fire gases, the other sprinklers won't open because there is not enough heat to melt their fusible element.

If the fire is hot enough that one sprinkler cannot handle it alone, hot gases will reach the next nearest sprinkler. Then that sprinkler would open to stop the fire. This design of opening only when there is enough heat limits the number of sprinklers to what is needed to stop the fire. Fire records show that 93 percent of fires were handled by only one sprinkler. In the remaining cases, two sprinklers handled an additional four percent. It took only three sprinklers to handle nearly all of the remaining 3 percent.

Keep in mind that these figures include large warehouses with high piles of combustible goods, some of them very combustible. In these cases, more than one sprinkler may be necessary to spray enough water to absorb the tremendous heat. In residential settings, the likelihood of more than one sprinkler opening is much more rare, and the number of fires controlled by one sprinkler is much closer to 100 percent.

The water spray from the sprinkler cools the fire gases over the fire. When the temperature of the burning material drops to below its combustion temperature, it can no longer burn and the fire goes out.

Responding firefighters will shut off the sprinkler only once they are sure that the fire is completely out.

Myths & Misconceptions

Know the Facts!
There are many myths about home fire sprinkler systems. Here are the facts:

Sprinklers stop or slow down a fire. They keep it from growing and spreading. That gives you and your family the time you need to get out and call the fire department.

The main job of fire sprinklers is to save lives. But fire sprinklers also protect your home and your things. Sprinklers turn on while the fire is still small. That holds down the fire and smoke damage to a home. Fire sprinklers put far less water on the fire. They usually spray about 25 gallons of water per minute.

In a home that doesn’t have sprinklers, a fire will keep growing and spreading. When firefighters arrive several minutes after they get an emergency call, they will have to put about 250 gallons of water per minute on the fire. And they will use powerful fire hoses. When a home doesn’t have fire sprinklers there is far greater damage from a fire and from water.

Even though you may have seen it in movies, fire sprinklers do not spray water all at once. In most home fires only one sprinkler is needed to put out the fire. Cigar smoke or smoke from burned food cannot turn on a sprinkler.

The nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) estimates that fire sprinklers add about 1-1.5 percent to the overall cost to build a new home. The cost is part of the new home mortgage, just like plumbing is.

Despite the proven effectiveness of sprinklers, there are a number of popular misconceptions.........


"When there is a fire all of the sprinkler heads go off together." - NO!


Sprinkler heads are set off individually and directly by the heat of the fire and therefore only the head/s directly affected by the fire are triggered.


"Water from the sprinklers will cause more damage than the fire."- NO!


Typically the Fire Department uses as much as 100 - 1,000 times more water to put out a fire than is delivered by a sprinkler head. Residential Sprinklers typically use only about 60 litres of water a minute. 1 sprinkler head will usually control a domestic fire and 4 an industrial fire. Because a sprinkler attacks the blaze directly and immediately when it is still small, it only needs to use a small amount of water to control the blaze. The Fire Brigade, however quickly they can respond, will have to deal with a much bigger fire by the time they arrive on the scene and therefore will have to use much more water to control it.


"A smoke detector/fire alarm will provide enough protection."- NO!


Certainly operational smoke detectors and fire alarms can save lives, but they do nothing to extinguish a growing fire, or to protect those unable to escape such as the disabled, infirm, elderly and children. Smoke detectors are now installed in over 80% of all homes, but although fire deaths have fallen by 24% in the past 10 years, injuries have increased by 62% to 18,600 in the same period. Smoke alarms on their own are patently not enough, especially for the vulnerable in our society.


"Sprinklers can go off accidentally."- NO!


Tests in service over the past 10 years show that the chances of a defective head are approximately 16,000,000 to 1; slightly longer odds than your chance of winning the Lottery. But this includes all type of defects including cosmetic defects, therefore the actual chance of an accidental discharge is considerably less.


"Sprinklers are only designed to protect property, and are not effective for life safety."- NO!

Sprinklers provide a high level of life safety. Statistics demonstrate that there has never been any multiple loss of life in a fully sprinklered building. Property losses average 85% less with fire sprinklers compared to those without sprinklers. The combination of automatic sprinklers and early warning systems in all buildings and residences could reduce overall injuries, loss of life and property damage by at least 80%.

HG Fire Systems, Fire Protection / Fire Sprinkler Contractors Servicing Houston Texas

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