Fire Protection - Auto Sprinkler

What’s the Difference Between Fire Sprinklers and Fire Suppression Systems?

Commercial fire protection systems are complex and involve a number of interdependent components, including fire sprinklers and fire suppression systems. Although they both serve the same basic purpose — extinguishing fire quickly to save lives and property — they differ in a few key ways depending on the type of environment they’re in.

Here’s a look at what distinguishes the two so you can make an informed decision as you plan a fire protection system for your business.

What Are Fire Sprinkler Systems?

Fire sprinkler systems are extremely common in various commercial businesses that receive a lot of foot traffic, from big-box stores and retail chains to hotels, supermarkets, and distribution centers. These fire safety measures are incredibly effective at minimizing flame damage, with 2021 NFPA research finding they controlled fires in 96% of U.S. incidents studied.

Fire sprinkler systems are made up of a network of pipes and lines that carry water to sprinklers installed throughout a building. When the system is activated by heat or smoke (or both), the sprinklers are designed to release water to stop a fire from spreading and, ideally, extinguish flames altogether.

Types of Sprinkler Systems

There are a few main types of sprinkler systems available to businesses, and some have advantages over others depending on the company’s needs. Some of the most common types include:

  • Wet pipe sprinkler systems consistently retain water in their lines so that they are ready to switch on the moment heat is detected. In these systems, not all sprinklers are activated at once; only those near heat and flames will produce water.
  • Dry pipe sprinkler systems work the same as wet pipe systems except for the fact that their pipes do not retain water continuously. These systems can be useful in areas where low temperatures can cause water-filled pipes to freeze.
  • Preaction sprinkler systems are a combination of wet and dry pipe systems. A preaction fire sprinkler system waits for the activation of other sprinklers and/or a fire alarm before filling its pipes with water, adding an additional step between smoke detection and water release. These systems are especially useful to control fires in places with water-sensitive materials, such as electrical equipment or museum pieces.

What Are Fire Suppression Systems?

Like sprinklers, automatic fire suppression systems are activated by heat and smoke and serve to control and extinguish fires. Instead of using water, however, these systems utilize chemical, foam, or gaseous suppression agents to reduce and put out flames. A fire suppression system is particularly useful in places where water would seriously damage or destroy important property, including technology hubs, server rooms, and manufacturing facilities.

These systems are also used in places where water would be ineffective against the types of fires that could break out, including facilities that handle highly flammable substances or commercial kitchens where grease fires are a possibility.

Streamline Your Company’s Fire Protection With Kistler O’Brien

No matter the size and scope of your Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware business, a comprehensive fire protection system is essential for keeping all personnel, guests, and property safe in the event of an emergency. At Kistler O’Brien Fire Protection, our team will work with you to design and install a life safety system that meets your specific needs, and we are available 24/7 to provide emergency repair services.

Contact us today to schedule your service or to learn more about our fire protection systems.