If your building contains high-value or irreplaceable goods that could be destroyed by water (e.g. an art gallery), you may prefer a system that allows you to halt the discharge of water.
The pre-action fire sprinkler system is an alternative to dry pipe systems that provides this level of control through a two-step process which is particularly useful in the case of a false alarm. Before releasing any water, the electrically-operated pre-action valve opens, and like the dry pipe system, the pipes will fill up.
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Unlike the dry pipe system -- which uses always-open sprinkler heads -- there are two separate events that must happen before water is released. Firstly, the pre-action valve must be triggered to open by independent heat, flame or smoke detection systems, which fills the pipes with water. Then, the closed sprinkler heads of this system must fuse and open, releasing the water. This provides an extra layer of protection against inadvertent discharge and gives you extra time to manually cancel the release of water.
In some cases, pre-action sprinkler systems will be fitted with a double interlock mechanism which holds pressurised oxygen or nitrogen in the piping. This allows for even more protection against false-alarm detector operation and allows greater ease with which to monitor system piping for leaks.
Pre-action sprinklers are particularly appropriate in cold storage warehouses and water-sensitive conditions.
Though this system is highly advantageous for use in certain areas with assets that could be easily water damaged (areas such as art storage rooms, computer centres, rare book libraries and physical archives), pre-action sprinkler systems are not appropriate in many scenarios, and come with a set of drawbacks. Firstly, there are strict size limitations on pre-action systems that may prevent you from making additions and modifications in future. The system itself is complex enough that you would also need to incorporate changes to your overarching detection & suppression systems in the event of said additions or modifications.
The complexity also adds to the time and money spent working on the system: the addition of a mandatory detection system -- separate from the pre-action sprinkler system itself -- and other elements (such as the pre-action valve) all add to the installation and maintenance costs. On that note, regular maintenance & testing is required to ensure the reliability of pre-action sprinkler systems. There is the potential for decreasing reliability of the system due to the complexity of it: the many moving parts increase the chances that something won't work when you need it to.
If you are wondering whether or not this system is right for your property, call us now or use the form below to organise a site visit. We will endeavour to provide you with the most appropriate and most cost-effective solution to your fire safety concerns.Book now
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