Contrary to popular belief, only individual sprinkler heads will discharge upon sensing a fire, not the system as a whole, meaning there is minimal risk of unnecessary water damage. Additionally, there is a 16,000,000 to 1 chance of a sprinkler head going off accidentally (even longer odds than winning the lottery).
Other common misconceptions about fire sprinklers include:
- Water from the sprinklers will cause more damage than the fire - Wrong
Typically, the fire service uses as much as 100 – 1,000 times more water to put out a fire than is delivered by a sprinkler head. Residential sprinkler systems typically use only about 50 litres of water per minute, with 1 sprinkler head controlling an entire fire. Because fire sprinklers attack the blaze directly and immediately while it is still small, only a small amount of water is typically needed. The fire service, no matter how quickly they are able to respond, would need to deal with a much larger fire by the time they arrive at a property if a fire sprinkler system were not installed.
- A smoke detector or fire alarm alone will provide enough protection - Wrong
It’s undeniable that smoke detectors and fire alarms save lives, but they do nothing to extinguish a fire, or to protect those unable to escape such as the disabled, infirm, elderly or very young. Smoke detectors are now installed in over 80% of all UK homes, but although fire deaths have fallen by 24% over the past ten years, injuries have increased by 62% to 18,600 over the same period.
- Sprinklers are only designed to protect property and are not effective at preventing injury or loss of life – Wrong
Sprinklers provide a high level of life safety, not only by extinguishing fires quickly and effectively, but also by reducing and supressing smoke, which is often deadlier than the fires themselves. Automatic sprinkler systems, in conjunction with early warning systems, have been proven to reduce overall injuries, loss of life and property damage by at least 80%.