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There are many fire suppression systems on the market, making it challenging to determine the most compatible fire suppression solutions for your facility, its critical assets, and most importantly its occupants. 

We’ve rounded up the 7 most commonly available fire suppression systems available today and their applications in one handy article, so that you can make an informed decision about the best system for your specific needs. Let’s dive in!

1. Wet Sprinkler Systems

Wet sprinkler systems are the most widely used fire suppression systems available, and are generally what we think of when discussing “sprinkler systems.” When you walk into a store or business and look up at the sprinklers on the ceiling, this system is usually what you are looking at. Wet sprinkler systems are characterized by their reliability, effectiveness, and low cost of maintenance. Each system consists of pipes containing pressurized water. When the system detects a fire and is activated, the sprinkler heads open and release the water inside. Wet pipe sprinklers are highly effective at quickly responding to fires and can contain the flames before the damage goes out of control. 

The wet pipe system is a reliable option for businesses that don’t carry a high risk of fire breakouts.  

2. Dry Sprinkler Systems

Dry pipe sprinkler systems still use water as the main suppressant; however, the water is not stored in the pipes. These systems instead store pressurized nitrogen and/or air in non-heated portions of the pipes—this prevents the pipes from freezing when the temperatures get too low. During a fire, the heat activates the sprinkler head, reducing the air pressure. The change in pressure opens the dry-pipe valve which releases water, which can then flow to the sprinkler heads. 

Dry pipe sprinkler systems are best used in structures where the temperature regularly drops below freezing, like meat processing facilities or businesses in northern states that experience harsh winters. 

3. Deluge Sprinkler Systems

These systems are incredibly effective because they release water and other fire suppressants to all the open sprinkler heads simultaneously.  The water supply is connected through a “deluge valve” that is activated by a heat or smoke detection system. When the valve opens, pressurized water flows through the sprinkler heads in larger amounts and with more force, dousing the fire with great efficiency. Because of their efficiency, deluge systems are used in hazardous areas such as chemical plants, power plants, and aircraft hangars.

4. Pre-Action Sprinkler Systems

If you don’t like the idea of a localized fire causing a facility-wide sprinkler activation, you may want to consider a pre-action sprinkler system. Pre-action sprinkler systems retain water by means of an electronically operated valve. The valve automatically opens when a fire is detected, and each sprinkler head responds to the fire individually, keeping unaffected areas dry. These systems work best in areas that may get damaged by the accidental discharge of the sprinklers.  

5. Anti-Freeze Sprinkler Systems

Anti-freeze sprinkler systems are a less-commonly used system for locations where temperatures regularly drop below freezing. These systems use a mixture of glycerin and propylene glycol—similar to the antifreeze you put in your car—which when mixed with water will keep the liquid in your pipes from freezing.  The problem with these solutions is that water and active ingredients have different densities and naturally separate over time. In other words, when the active ingredients become too high relative to water, the anti-freeze solution can serve as a fuel for fires when the sprinkler discharges. For this reason, antifreeze systems are mostly used in cars and HVAC systems. 

Regulatory bodies have laid down strict guidelines for installing antifreeze sprinkler systems because of the high flammability of different mixtures and are generally not recommended. 

6. Foam Systems

Foam suppression systems are composed of three parts: foam concentrate, water, and air. If mixed correctly, these substances form a uniform blanket on combustible liquids to clear fires by cooling the fuel and isolating it from the air. 

Foam systems are used in facilities prone to hazards, including refineries, processing areas, and chemical plants.

7. Clean Agent Fire Protection Systems 

Clean agent fire suppression systems are often used in buildings with lots of electronic items. These systems use inert gases that are deemed safe for the environment and humans. When discharged, these liquified gasses chemically disrupt the fire, then evaporate without leaving damaging residue on equipment. They are fast, effective, and eco-friendly. More importantly, the systems are highly effective at suppressing fire in less than 10 seconds without harming electronic items.  

Which System Should Your Business Use?

Each structure or facility presents unique challenges to properly protect it from fire damage. This is why federal and state regulations require a professional fire protection company to design and install a fire suppression system that is appropriate for your buildings. 

If you have questions about installing repairing, or inspecting your fire suppression system, contact us now and enjoy a world-class service by NICET-certified technicians. We look forward to protecting you!