Early sprinkler systems were used to protect property as early as 1850. Although these systems were much cruder than the ones used today, the basic principal of the system remains the same.
Today’s sprinkler heads function off of the same principal that the Parmalee head used over a hundred years ago. Usually a metal solder or filament is designed to melt or burst if it reaches a certain temperature, opening the sprinkler head. While the design principal remains very much the same the purpose of modern sprinkler systems has changed. It is no longer enough to just protect property; the occupants of the building must also be protected. In order to achieve this sprinkler systems are designed to “extinguish the fire entirely, prevent its spread if the initial fire is out of range of the sprinklers, or contain the fire if it is of a type that cannot be completely extinguished by water discharge from sprinklers.”
1. Badger, S. G. (2005 September/October) U.S. Multiple-Death Fires in 2004. NFPA Journal, p.50.
2. Cote, P.E., & Bugbee, P. (2001). Principles of Fire Protection. Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association.
3. Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Fire Sprinkler Facts. Retrieved October 28, 2005 from http://www.homesprinkler.org.hfsc.html
4. National Fire Protection Association. Automatic Sprinkler Systems. Retrieved October 28, 2005 from http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=276&itemID=18249&URL=Research%2…
5. The Fire Sprinkler Network. Facts and Figures. Retrieved October 28, 2005 from http://www.sprinklernet.org/press/facts.html