Fire Sprinklers

Fire Sprinklers

Hiller’s laser-sharp focus on designing, installing and maintaining the most effective and compliant fire protection systems has given countless customers peace of mind. When you put fire safety into our hands, you are free to focus on the business of running your business knowing your people and property are protected. We are your one source for customizing your fire sprinkler systems from start to finish. We understand what it takes to develop a plan to meet your individual needs regardless of space or environment.

The most common type of sprinkler system is the wet pipe system. Wet pipe systems constantly maintain pressurized water within the pipes. When the system is activated by heat from fire, water is discharged through a closed sprinkler head. As each sprinkler head is activated by heat, it will discharge water until the fire is under control or extinguished.

Common Applications:

  • Commercial buildings
  • Retail stores
  • Climate controlled storage areas

Why use wet pipe systems?

  • Reliability and simplicity – Wet pipe systems have fewer components than other systems, and are therefore less likely to malfunction. They are also reliable even when they remain unused, often for years at a time.
  • Affordability – Because they are simple to install and maintain, they are cost effective.
  • Easy alteration – Modifying current systems generally involves three steps:
    • Shutting off water supply.
    • Draining pipes.
    • Making alterations. Once work is complete, it is simple to re-pressurize and test.
  • Quick restoration – In the event of a fire, it takes minimal time to get the system restored. In general, all that is required is to replace any fused sprinklers and restore the water supply.

Limitations of wet pipe systems:

  • Ineffective when the environment has sub-freezing temperatures
  • Less reliable with the environment is subject to heavy impact that could cause leaks

Dry pipe sprinkler systems are filled with pressurized air or nitrogen rather than water. This is necessary in areas where freezing temperatures are present. Dry systems have automatic, closed sprinkler heads. When the sprinklers are activated by fire, the compressed air is released and, as the pressure decreases, water flows and discharges. The sprinkler heads operate independently, so water will only flow from heads that have been activated by heat.

Common Applications:

  • Unheated warehouses
  • Attics
  • Exposed loading docks
  • Commercial freezers

Why use dry pipe systems?

  • Reliability in freezing temperatures – Water is kept from the pipes until the system is activated ensuring they will not freeze up in cold temperatures.
  • Independence – Sprinkler heads will only be activated by heat, allowing only necessary heads to activate.

Limitations of dry pipe systems:

  • Dry systems are more complex requiring air pressure components and more frequent maintenance.
  • Dry systems are more expensive than wet systems to install and maintain.
  • There are limitations on the allowable size of a system.There are delayed response times due to air having to decompress before water can flow. This can add up to 60 seconds to response time.
  • There is a delay in getting the system operational after discharge because it must be completely drained and dried before recharging.

Similar to dry pipe sprinkler systems, pre-action systems do not contain water within the pipes. Water is held from the piping by an electrical valve called a “pre-action valve.” The valve is triggered to open by heat, flame or smoke detection. Therefore, in order for the system to discharge, it must detect a fire or impending fire and then open the valve. This effectively creates a wet pipe sprinkler system where individual sprinkler heads will release and water will discharge.

Common Applications:

  • Computer systems
  • Fine art displays
  • Historic document storage areas
  • Rare book vaults

Why use pre-action systems?

  • Reliability – These systems are preferred when you need to avoid inadvertent discharge, particularly in water-sensitive environments.
  • Independence – Individual sprinkler heads only open if activated by heat.

Limitations of pre-action systems:

  • Installation and maintenance costs are higher due to the complexity of the system.
  • Size limitations may inhibit the ability to modify systems.
  • Reliability is decreased due to increased complexity of the systems.

Foam sprinkler systems are used to suppress liquid fires. When foam combines with water, it expands to cover the liquid that is on fire, cools the fire and then suffocates it. There are multiple delivery systems used to distribute foam. In the first system, a bladder tank pushes foam from the tank to the proportioner to mix the foam concentrate with water. This system is all mechanical with no electrical parts that could fail due to fire. A foam pump is another delivery system. The pump moves the foam from a storage tank by pumping it into the sprinkler system at the correct concentration. Foam comes in low, medium and high expansion. The higher the expansion rate, the larger the space that can be protected.

Common Applications:

  • Areas that store flammable liquids
  • Refineries
  • Processing areas
  • Marine applications
  • Jet engine test facilities
  • Aircraft hangers

Why use foam sprinkler systems?

  • Reliability – Foam systems use a chemical agent in addition to water. This combination suffocates challenging fires quickly.
  • Speed of Suppression – Foam is able to put out hotter fires more quickly which results in reduced property damage.
  • Effectiveness – Foam prevents reignition because it suppresses flammable vapors.

Limitations of foam sprinkler systems:

  • Clean up will be more involved as you will have chemical foam throughout the space.
  • Chemical agents can be corrosive.

Unlike the pre-action sprinkler systems, deluge systems do not use pressurized air and the sprinkler heads are open. A deluge valve connects the sprinkler system to the water supply and is activated by a smoke or heat detection system. Once activated, these systems discharge all sprinkler heads at once. They are used mostly in larger, high hazard areas where high velocity suppression is needed to limit the fire spread. Some deluge systems incorporate the use of foam as well.

Common Applications:

  • Chemical storage
  • Aircraft hangars
  • Power plants
  • Processing facilities
  • Tank vessels
  • Transformers

Why use deluge sprinkler systems?

  • Effectiveness – Deluge sprinklers are good for environments that are at risk for rapidly spreading fires.
  • Backup Trigger – While they are connected to fire alarms, deluge sprinklers can also be activated manually.

Limitations of deluge sprinkler systems:

  • Because every sprinkler head opens when activated, water damage is likely due to the volume of water released.
  • There must be a large reservoir of water to operate the system.