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Looking after the sprinklers in my home

16 April 24


We have sprinklers installed in our tall buildings across the city. Here we dispel some of the myths surrounding sprinklers and give some tips on keeping your sprinklers safe and functional.

How sprinklers work

The sprinkler system works separately from the fire alarm system.

If a fire breaks out it creates hot gasses that rise to the ceiling and spread. When they reach the nearest sprinkler head it activates allowing a fine spray of water to cover the fire, which in most cases will put it out or limit toxic smoke until the fire service arrives.

Because the water will cool the fire straight away, only the sprinkler nearest the fire will activate. If the fire is hot enough that one sprinkler cannot handle it alone, the nearest sprinkler will activate. When the water has cooled the fire down enough, it will stop.

Will sprinklers activate anytime a smoke alarm is set off?

Each sprinkler is designed to activate when it senses a large heat change. They do not operate in response to smoke, burnt toast, cooking, steam or a smoke alarm.

If a fire starts will all the sprinklers activate?

In the event of a fire, only the sprinkler closest to it will activate, spraying water directly over the fire. The water from the sprinkler cools the fire’s gases and in nearly all cases there is not enough heat to trigger the next nearest sprinkler, leaving the rest of the property dry and secure.

Won’t the water create more damage than the fire?

Sprinklers can reduce property loss and damage in the event of a fire. They quickly control the heat and smoke from the fire, limiting damage to other areas of the home and giving people valuable time to leave the building safely. Any water damage from a sprinkler will be much less severe than the damage caused by water from fire-fighting hose lines, which use up to eight-and-a-half times more water.

Keeping my sprinklers safe

We’ve had reports recently of residents painting over their sprinkler heads – this could cause a defect and stop them from activating in an emergency.

You mustn't put any furniture in front of your sprinkler heads, paint over them or tamper with them in any way, as this could cause damage or blockages in the event of a fire.

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