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Home Fire Sprinklers

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    Home Fire Sprinklers

    I am restoring an old home. I have wired it for security (42 zones), smoke (5 detectors), CO (2 detectors), and some HA (primarily for ethernet, phone and video.) I am installing an OmniPro II with HomeSeer. I would now like to design and install myself (I have done everything else including the restoration) a fire sprinkler system. Does anyone know where I can get detailed information on design and installation (e.g., forums, books, etc.) Also any suggestions on some suppliers I can purchase the components from? I then plan to monitor the system with the Omni and HS. Thanks in advance. Harold Blair

    Most "sprinkler systems" where there is computers, stereos, electricity in abundance would not use water but a halon type system. I must say though I have never heard of a sprinkler system in a home.
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      Actually there are sprinkler systems that are used in datacenters that fill the pipes with air. Only if multiple smoke or heat detectors are tripped, is water let into the pipes, and only if the sprinkler release melts (needs very high temps) will any one sprinkler go off. We are replacing an aging halon system at our datacenter at work with such a system.

      Some of these systems also automatically kill power to anything that might get wet. Most computer equipment can stand getting wet as long as the power is not turned on until it is completely dry.

      I have never heard of sprinkler systems in homes, just multi-tentant buildings.



        Funny you are mentioning this. There is a new commercial on TV lately praising the benefits of a home sprinkler system. They quote something like 90% of the fires can be prevented from becoming catastrophic with a system.

        I don't know about home installations, but for commercial properties, there are all kinds of systems - dry pipe, halon (well, another substance is used now, call FE-227 or HFC-227 - heptafluoropropane), standing water, etc. IMO, the biggest issues are the codes being enforced in your location - fire codes are very strict and I think you'd want to talk with a company that is familiar with installing sprinkler systems so mistakes are not made.

        However, interconnected systems are no different than having a smoke detector in a central HVAC air handler that must shut off the fan in the case of smoke in the ducts (which is code in my area). I doubt if any kind of oxygen-reducing system would be authorized for home use.

        I guess the people to ask are your local code enforcement office, local fire department, or builders. One of them should be able ot point you to the right contractors/info.
        | - Gordon

        "I'm a Man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess." - Man's Prayer, Possum Lodge, The Red Green Show - -


          I am working on a house in southern California that just finished construction. It was required by code to have sprinklers. It is in avery nice neighborhood nestled in the hills. I can tell you that the homeowner does not want these going off, in fact he would rather have them disabled. The fire sprinklers will put out thousands of gallons of water and pretty much destroy everything. They are required because they do not want house fires spreading to the other houses it the hills. This is pretty much the same reason they are in office buildings and such. Fire sprinklers will not save your house, they are made to save your neighbors house.

          If you want to save your stuff look into other fire suppresion systems. There are many great replacements for Halon that will save all your stuff.


            Get used to seeing it, as more and more jurisdictions will require it. I know of one large county in the DC area (Prince George MD) that requires sprinklers in all new residential contruction. At least two more (Montgomery MD, and Fairfax VA) were considering them. These are water type sprinklers. I don't recall if they covered every part of the house, or just the main areas. I do recall an article in the newspaper stating that there had not been a single fire related death in any of the houses with sprinklers. It also had some cost numbers for adding them to new houses, but I don't recall the specifics.

            Can't help you in your search, but if you do some web searching about sprinkler systems and Prince George County Maryland, you might be able to find something. There are also dry contact switches made to be hooked into the sprinkler system, so that the burg/fire alarm can be notified when the sprinkler system is activated. Don't know what is involved with designing home systems, but it's supposedly a job for the pros involving blood sacrifices and mystic rituals. Of course the burglar alarm people say the same thing, and we know how much bunk that is.
            My system is described in my profile.


              What are the odds of having a house fire?

              What are the odds of these sprinklers going off accidentally oe freezing and busting? I'll bet higher.

              This would be a very interesting stat. I can see it now. If a few years your insurance rates are higher because you have a built in sprinkler system.
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                The apartment building I live in has sprinklers in every possible area of every single apartment. Even in the closets that have no electricity in them there is a sprinkler. Don't know if anybody's ever had one go off in their apartment or not but we've always felt MUCH safer with all the sprinklers since we're up on the fifth floor.


                  The insurance aspects would be a really interesting study. In my area, the FD is very good at saving foundations (No insult to the FD, but time before fire is noticed + dispatch time + time for volunteers to get to station + response time + time to get sufficient equipment on scene to put out the fire = lots of time for fire to burn everything). What's the higher risk? paying for water damage from broken pipes/etc, or paying to replace a completely destroyed house?

                  Also, IIRC the residential systems are lower pressure than commercial. The heads are also concealed (it looks like a 2.5 inch round piece of plastic on the ceiling) and thus less likely to be accidently discharged by the kids playing, etc.
                  My system is described in my profile.


                    Thanks all for your comments. I believe most of the home sprinkler issues are being driven by the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2003 currently before Congress. This bill provides some tax incentives for installing home sprinkler systems. There are several organizations that are in the forefront of promoting the issue including:
                    1. The Fire Sprinkler Network
                    2. The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and
                    3. TheResidential Fire Safety Institute.

                    Unfortunately, there is a lot of "smoke" but little fire (pun intended) at this time. I have not been able to find anyone/anywhere discussing design/installation. There are a couple of companies that provide components (primarily for commerical systems.)

                    This issue is very important to me since the house I am restoring is 100% wood and would "go up like a match" in the event of a fire.

                    I guess I will just continue to do some research. Thanks again, Harold


                      I happened to see this on a recent episode of Michael Holigan's television program:





                        Aaahhhh, apparently insurance rates have gotten high enough and sprinkler technology costs have gotten low enough for the insurance industry to start trying to force them in. No offense to people who want them - that's good thinking - but when they are mandated by law, who benefits most?

                        I thinkt hey reason the typcial ceiling-mounted sprinklers work so well is that they help prevent flash-over - the condition where the smoke and fumes within an enclosed area reach the flash point and burn in the air - making the air on fire. Ceiling sprinklers water down the particles and they drop to the floor, reducing or preventing flashover.

                        Well, that's my opinion on the subject.

                        | - Gordon

                        "I'm a Man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess." - Man's Prayer, Possum Lodge, The Red Green Show
               - -


                          It seems to me that the major point of a sprinkler system (residential or commercial) is to save lives, not just to prevent property damage. A sprinkler system would do a substantial amount of damage to electronics, carpet, furniture, drywall, hardwood floors, subfloors, etc. (OK, not quite as much as a fire). But, I think the real benefit would be that it would be far better for you and your family to get wet than the alternative. Even if it doesn't completely extinguish the fire, it might slow it down enough for your family to escape unharmed (especially at night when a fire can get pretty large before you wake up).

                          I could be wrong but I think Halon is pretty much a thing of the past because of the danger to humans it poses. I work for a company with three large data centers and we have water systems in all of them. As I understand it, the pipes are not charged with water until one zone detects a fire and they do not discharge water until a second zone detects a fire. It's supposed to be pretty fail-safe. But, sprinker systems aren't my area of expertise so I'm not extremely familiar with them.


                            Don't let the misinformed tell you otherwise. There has never been a better fire suppression idea than fire sprinklers. Its like having a 3" firefighter in every room. Connected to a notification system, like Homeseer or a monitored alarm company, the fire department can respond automatically to limit water damage and to check for fire extension.

                            Residential fire sprinklers are installed only for the life safety of the residents, not for the protection of other buildings. Insurance companies give a 5-15% premimum credit; not an impressive amount, but it demonstrates the positive attitude insurance companies have towards active fire protection.

                            Since only the sprinkler(s) in the immediate fire area are activated, you don't need to worry about water damage throughout your house. A fire left unchecked will cause much more damage. There is a saying in the fire service: "Everything dries out, but nothing unburns."

                            The residential industry standard is a NFPA 13D system at about $1.25 a square foot. Less expensive sytems that can be owner installed are starting to appear.



                              <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>The residential industry standard is a NFPA 13D system at about $1.25 a square foot. Less expensive sytems that can be owner installed are starting to appear. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                              Where can I find information on:
                              (1) NFPA 13 D system and
                              (2) Less expensive owner installed systems?