Fighting fire: Benefits of a residential sprinkler system


A modern residential sprinkler system is simple to manage.


It takes only minutes for a fire to escalate. Even with the responding fire department’s prompt arrival, a home could be destroyed. To help avoid this, have your home fitted with a residential sprinkler system.

A licensed sprinkler installer can install a system that meets NFPA 13-D residential protection system requirements for an automatic fire suppression system.

What is a residential sprinkler system and how does it work?

A residential sprinkler system is a series of sprinkler heads connected by water pipes in the home. The system is supplied by a reliable water source, such as a cistern or public water supply. The sprinkler head has a heat sensitive element triggered to release water when the temperature reaches between 135 and 165 degrees. These systems are triggered one head at a time, and most fires can be extinguished by only one or two activated sprinkler heads.

Some advantages of a residential sprinkler system include:

  • less water damage than a fire hose
  • small fire suppression, preventing its spread
  • more time to safely escape your home
  • Protection of surrounding rooms from fire, heat and smoke damage

Types of residential sprinkler systems:

  • Wet – composed of steel pipes and pressurized water, triggered by a sprinkler head. This is the simplest and most reliable system.
  • Dry – pipes fill with compressed air, released when the sprinkler head is activated.
  • Deluge – a variation on the dry pipe system, water enters the head when triggered by smoke or heat detection. The sprinkler heads activate simultaneously, deluging the area with water.
  • Pre-Action – a variation on the dry pipe system; water enters the system only after a smoke or heat detector is triggered. The sprinkler heads then act independently.
  • Foam – a system that uses foam and chemicals to suppress the fire by cooling it and coating flammable materials to reduce combustion and suppress the fire.
Sprinkler water flow alarm

A residential sprinkler system requires a sprinkler water flow alarm connected to a central station monitoring service. The water flow alarm notifies the central station fire alarm service that the residential fire sprinkler head has opened and water is passing through the fire suppression system. Linked to a central station fire alarm system, it also alerts the monitoring company if the sprinkler head is leaking, reducing any potential water damage.


This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and policy service.

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