Worry about water from fire sprinklers? It’s the lesser of two evils…

Despite decades of research and real-world scenarios of how fire sprinklers save lives, property and limit property damage, there remains resistance to installed fire sprinklers out of misunderstands, myths, and misconceptions.  To that end, consider…

  • An activated fire sprinkler will put out between 8 and 24 gallons of water per minute.
    • This is an IMMEDIATE response to an active fire, with fire sprinklers only activating in areas with fire present
  • Firefighters’ nozzles typically dispense anywhere from 140 to 180 gallons per minute — and that’s per firefighter team and hose is use.Fire hose and nozzles dispense a LOT more water!
    • This is a DELAYED response; no digs on the fire department, but each step takes time:
      1. Notify the fire department of the fire (?? minutes; the human- or alarm-dependent Time to Report the fire)
      2. Dispatch signals the nearest fire station to respond (add 1 minute; the Acknowledge Time)
      3. The first-due fire engine acknowledges and departs the station (add 1 minute; the Response Time)
      4. The first-due fire engine arrives (at least 4 minutes; the Travel Time), and
      5. Prepares the fire attack and makes entry into the structure (at least 2 minutes or so).

From the time the fire department is notified, the fire already has had at least eight minutes to burn and grow, causing considerably more damage and demanding that much more water to extinguish.

The presence of water — and resulting water damage — are best controlled by limiting the size and duration of a fire.  Hands down, fire sprinklers will douse the flames quickly, which then can limit the fire to the original area or room. Homeowners or responding fire crews than then shut down the fire sprinkler’s flow of water at the sprinkler valve.  (In the case of any active fire or fire sprinkler extension, the fire department should be called in to investigate and ensure there is no hidden fire ‘extension,’ or presence of flames or smoldering material in walls, ceiling or other areas not immediately visible.)




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