Requirements to Understand for Fire Sprinkler Safety

  • February 28, 2022

Mandated automatic fire sprinklers for residential constructions and commercial buildings are more common than you’d think. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) just released its 2022 requirements for fire sprinkler installation, and it’s essential to review the material for any relevant updates. These parameters will help you and your team ensure maximum fire sprinkler safety and efficacy for buildings of all types:

Fire Sprinkler Density Requirements

Not all fire sprinklers in a building will be activated simultaneously, especially in a large commercial space. If the sprinklers were activated all at once, the building would lose water pressure and fail the system. This is why your sprinkler system’s design density is critical—or rather, how much square footage the sprinkler heads can reach and the amount of water flow released per minute when those sprinklers activate.

There are four metrics required to calculate the fire sprinkler density: minimum flow rate, coverage area, volume of water, and length of time. These measurements provide the minimum density required to effectively reach the part of your building furthest from the primary water source. This information is vital to ensure you install a fire sprinkler system that does its job without diminishing water pressure.

Fire Sprinkler Flow Requirements

Most fire sprinklers lines can release a flow rate of 26 gallons per minute once they’re activated, but smaller lines cannot handle that pressure. In this case, installing low-flow sprinkler heads can be a great solution. This reduces the flow rate to 20 gallons per minute and places less demand on the whole system.

The drawback of a low-flow option is that you’ll often need to increase the number of sprinkler heads. This can be a problem in multi-housing or office complexes, as several units share a water supply line and meter. So before installation, we have to consider both the safety and logistical implications of flow rate. Is there enough space to install flow-restricting heads, or should we use a normal-flow head without overtaxing the system?

Fire Sprinkler Meter Requirements

The sprinkler meter also influences flow rate, as the water pressure controls how much water is released through the system pipes and out the sprinkler heads. Meters read the velocity and volume of water flow in a building to determine if the pressure release is intermittent or continuous. The latter indicates a leak or a system activation, at which point the meter will signal the local fire department. 

When choosing a meter, we consider both the maximum intermittent and continuous flow rate. The intermittent flow rate tells you how many systems the meter can handle for daily water use. In contrast, the constant flow rate tells you how effective it will be in releasing water pressure when the fire sprinklers activate. A 3/4- or 5/8-inch meter is usually an optimal size—larger 1-inch meters lose accuracy.  

Ensure Your Sprinkler System Meets Code Requirements 

This information can be quite a lot to remember, but that’s why we’re here. If you need help with the installation or want to confirm that your fire sprinkler system aligns with the latest NFPA code requirements, reach out to our team at A&A Fire Protection. Our team of industry experts will make this whole process smooth, efficient, and completely safe.

All of our protocols either meet or exceed OSHA safety recommendations, and we know the code requirements in and out. You shouldn’t have to worry about tackling a project as crucial as fire sprinkler installation alone. Whether it’s a multi-story commercial building, a smaller single-family residence, or just about any structure in between, we have you covered.

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