Are Your Fire Sprinklers Too High Above The Ceiling Line?

Your fire sprinklers should not be above your building’s ceiling line. If it is hanging too low or even too high above the ceiling line, your fire sprinklers will have disruptive spraying patterns, which will lower their effectiveness in the event of a fire. 

By having ineffective fire sprinklers you put yourself and everyone in the building in danger. It’s safe to say that Fire sprinklers, including fire sprinkler heads, are your life insurance. Do you want to know how to ensure fire sprinkler effectiveness? Keep reading. 

Fire Sprinkler Importance

Fire sprinkler systems have been around for more than two centuries. In 1872, Philip W. Pratt patented the first fire sprinkler system. He installed the very first fire sprinkler system in his piano factory. Later on, Frederick Grinnell improved his method and introduced it to commercial buildings. 

Nowadays, you can find fire sprinklers everywhere. From resident to commercial building. NFPA or the National Fire Protection Association researched how important fire sprinklers are. Especially, when it comes to reducing deaths and loss of property. 

In 2017, modern fire sprinkler systems lowered the civilian death rate by 81 percent. A firefighter also admits that it has successfully decreased the injury rate by 80 percent. It proves fire sprinklers are a must-have item in every building.

Fire Sprinkler comes in different types and brands. Whichever fire sprinkler you choose, it must have a sprinkler head. In the case of fire, a fire sprinkler head sprays water automatically. Not only it extinguishes fire, but it also helps the evacuation process. A fire sprinkler without ahead is like a car without a wheel. You can get in a car to pose, but it will not get you anywhere. 

Fire Sprinkler Head Problems You Must Know

Sample of disruptive spray due to position of sprinkler heads
Sample of disruptive spray due to the position of sprinkler heads

We already mentioned a fire sprinkler is an automated fire extinguisher. If you are at war with fire, imagine a fire sprinkler as your front line of defense. A front liner must be fast and effective. With this effectiveness in mind, it is important to keep a fire sprinkler system in proper working order. 

A few things that may cause a fire sprinkler head to not work properly are:

  1. Painted sprinkler heads.
  2. Corroded/dirty sprinkler heads.
  3. Sprinkler heads that are too high above the ceiling line.

Sprinkler heads that are placed too high can cause a disruptive spray pattern. What is a disruptive spray pattern? 

The fire sprinkler has a spray pattern. Normally, the water spraying from it hits fire with enough water pressure and enough surface area to put out the fire. This allows the sprinkler to extinguish the fire quickly and effectively. If this pattern is disrupted, it will fail to do so. This usually happens if fire sprinkler heads are placed above the ceiling line. 

NFPA – 13 regulations explain the perfect fire sprinkler positioning. There are several factors you must measure:

  1. Room or building size. 
  2. Construction obstruction. Roof heights and construction fall into an obstruction.
  3. Furniture placement.
  4. Fire sprinkler types.
  5. Fire hazard and combustion room.

Once you calculate those 5 factors, you will have a better understanding if the sprinkler positioning is on target. Generally speaking, NFPA suggests a sprinkler be positioned within 3 inches outside of obstructions. The regulations can be different depending on the case. 

Fire Sprinkler vs Fire Department

You might find NFPA regulations are hard to follow, especially if you are not a licensed technician like those that work for CertiPro Fire. Although fire sprinkler installments require a thorough understanding of NFPA regulations, there are many reasons why fire sprinklers are a better first line of defense than the fire department.

The reason is fairly simple. A fire sprinkler is automatic, convenient, less harmful, and actually requires less water.

Since sprinkler heads are automatically triggered by fire-specific temperature, just one or two sprinklers can quickly extinguish the fire. Your sprinkler can contain a fire to the room where it started. At the very least, you might end up with little property damage. This is automatic and convenient, whereas a call to the fire department is not. On top of that, a fire hose will cause far more damage to your building than a fire sprinkler.

Regular fire hose water pressure is 290 psi. You can cut through brick and mortar with water pressure as high as 290 Psi. Imagine what a fire hose can do to your furniture or building. On the other hand, the average fire sprinkler water pressure is 7 psi. Your fire sprinkler is less harmful to your property than a visit from the fire department. Plus, fire sprinklers use about six times less water than a fire hose!

Does that mean the firefighters are useless? Of course not. 

Both fire sprinklers and firefighters work side by side. A fire sprinkler is a front liner. The sole responsibility of a fire sprinkler is to extinguish a fire before it goes out of hand. However, fire incidents are not always small. Fire sprinklers cannot contain or extinguish a huge fire blast. Once it happens firefighters are needed. 

You may also notice firefighters need time to respond. The average time for firefighters to respond is 5 minutes after the incident is confirmed. Anything can happen in 5 minutes. A fire sprinkler is an ideal solution to contain the fire until help arrives. 

Check Your Fire Sprinkler

Building owners do not usually test fire sprinklers. Fire simulation is more common than testing fire sprinklers. The thing is, if your fire sprinkler is broken, there is no way you can evacuate. It is important to verify each fire sprinkler head will deploy properly in the event of a fire.

You do not have to start a fire just to test a fire sprinkler. There are other ways around it! Call a professional if you feel any of your fire sprinkler heads may be at risk of not functioning properly. A professional fire inspector will know exactly how to test your fire sprinkler and the best methods to fix it.

Fortunately for you, CertiPro Fire is here to help with any kind of fire system. CertiPro Fire is open to anyone in Mesa, Scottdale, Phoenix, or any surrounding Arizona region. If your fire sprinkler is too high above the ceiling or any other cases, CertiPro Fire is ready to fix that. Please call (480) 829-7600 or fill-up the request form to conduct a complimentary on-site review of your fire sprinkler system.