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How Rapid Response Automatic Sprinklers Outsmart the Flames

Fires can be catastrophic. Once a fire takes hold of a building, it can be very difficult to extinguish, even with an emergency response by multiple fire engines and crews.


Automatic fire sprinkler systems tackle some of the biggest risks and impacts of fires, including:


·        Initiating fire response faster without manual intervention

·        Containing fires in a smaller area until fire crews arrive

·        Increasing time available for safe evacuation

·        Reducing and preventing costly property damage

·        Protecting against injury, smoke inhalation and loss of life


The most effective response is a fast one. Rapid response automatic sprinklers are designed to activate faster, offering maximum protection in high-risk areas, such as occupied residential premises.


The Science of Fire


A fire needs four things to start and spread:


1.    Fuel

2.    Heat

3.    Oxygen

4.    A source of ignition


Once a fire is self-sustaining, depriving it of heat, fuel or oxygen will (in most cases) put it out.


Without an immediate response, fires can spread to neighbouring materials (increasing the fire's available fuel) and generate more heat, making it more difficult and time-consuming to extinguish them.


Fuel, heat and oxygen are the three elements in the 'fire triangle'. Deprive a typical fire of one or more of those three elements, and it will eventually go out.


What are Rapid Response Automatic Sprinklers?


Automatic fire sprinklers have an RTI rating (Response Time Index) which indicates how quickly the sprinkler will activate in the presence of a fire - a lower RTI means a faster response.


On sprinklers with a coloured glass tube trigger, the thickness of the tube offers a visual indication of the sprinkler's RTI - e.g. a 5mm tube vs a 3mm tube. A thinner tube means a faster response.


Standard sprinklers may have an RTI of about 80 or more, whereas fast response automatic sprinklers typically have an RTI of 50 or less.


How do Rapid Response Automatic Sprinklers Work?


When a fire breaks out, the air around the fire heats up, creating a current in the room as the warmer, less dense air rises to the ceiling and recirculates around the space.


The thermally sensitive trigger on the sprinkler (often a thin glass tube that breaks at a certain temperature) activates in the presence of this warmer air, triggering the sprinkler.


Deluge sprinklers dispense water from all sprinkler heads at once, providing a fast, direct response to the fire and helping to tackle the flames immediately across a larger area.


Mist sprinklers can continue to dispense a fine mist of water over the affected area, damping the available combustible fuel and reducing heat levels to stop the fire from spreading.


With good sprinkler system design, the activated sprinkler heads can provide even water coverage to suppress the fire for a predetermined length of time, until emergency services can get there.


Benefits and Features of Rapid Response Sprinklers


Rapid response automatic fire sprinklers prioritise the speed of activation, making them the perfect fit for locations with the highest risk. This includes example hospitals, care homes and any residential setting, as well as premises with valuable or highly combustible contents.


Some of the main benefits of rapid response sprinklers include:


·        Faster response time

·        Sensitive to smaller changes in heat

·        Low risk of false activations

·        Minimised fire damage

·        Reduced water damage

·        High safety for human occupants


Fast response automatic fire sprinklers should be an important consideration when the characteristics of the property are right (e.g. high-risk contents, combustible materials or in the presence of a heat/ignition source).


Applications and Suitability


In addition to some of the applications mentioned above, there are many environments in which fast response automatic sprinklers are suitable:



Buildings such as houses, apartments, tower blocks, care homes, hospitals, and hospices. Protecting life is the top priority of all fire protection work.



Businesses, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. It is vital that business owners and managers take the appropriate steps to protect their workers and assets.


Specialised Environments

Premises such as healthcare facilities or data centres contain specialised equipment and materials, which require specialist fire protection solutions.


These are just a few examples. In any premises where increased protection against fire is desirable, or where there are sensitive risks to tackle, rapid response automatic sprinklers may be the sensible choice.


Recommendations for Embracing Rapid Response Sprinklers


Let's finish with some best practice for rapid response sprinklers:


1.   Early Planning


Fire sprinklers are at their best when they are integrated into building design or refurbishments from the outset. Speak to an expert today to get the ball rolling.


2.   Regular Inspections


Sprinkler systems should be well maintained, both for compliance reasons and to make sure they operate correctly if/when needed. With good maintenance, automatic sprinkler systems offer reliability and effectiveness in the high 90 percents.


3.   Proactive Approach


Research shows that automatic fire sprinklers prevent incidents from becoming more serious and significantly reduce financial losses. Embrace rapid response automatic sprinklers and invest in the highest level of protection for your premises.


To find out more about rapid response automatic sprinklers and whether they are the best fit for your development, contact Base Fire Sprinklers today.


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