Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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How Do Fire Sprinklers Work?

Fire sprinklers are individual components in the fire suppression system. Arguably, they are the most essential elements of the system because they trigger the water response. Many people don’t realize how critical these components are in preventing property damage and saving lives.

How do fire sprinklers work to prevent damage? Are the devices really necessary for reducing fire loss? Besides being a legal requirement in properties, fire sprinklers benefit property owners in multiple ways. It is worthwhile for a property owner to understand how these elements work and why they are so valuable.

How Fire Sprinklers Work: A Simple Process

1. Heat Triggers the Sprinkler Head

Each sprinkler head reacts to heat directly above the individual unit. Every head has a temperature threshold that prevents unnecessary activation or premature water delivery. The typical activation temperature is 135 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly higher than average daily temperatures.

The triggering mechanism depends on your fire suppression system. A sprinkler head can have a glass bulb or a fusible link as a trigger point. The glass bulb heads are more common and offer more aesthetic appeal. They use a small, sealed glass vial containing a glycerin-based liquid that expands rapidly when heated. Expansion of the liquid causes the glass vial to shatter, eliminating the barrier holding back the water.

The less common fusible link sprinkler heads have a more industrial look with limited finish options. These devices rely on a metal alloy link. The alloy melts at a specific temperature range, breaking the link and releasing the plug, freeing the water outlet.

2. Water Valve Opens for Distribution

The melting or shattering of the heat-sensitive element creates the simultaneous release of pressurized water. The water valve, previously held closed by the sprinkler head’s seal, opens fully and immediately.

Meticulous engineering is how fire sprinklers work. The design ensures a specific flow rate at a given sustainable pressure. Directly beneath the sprinkler head is a deflector that ensures water disperses over the area, targeting the fire source and its surroundings.

The strong water pressure combined with the deflector allows for adequate fuel saturation, soaking potential fuel sources — furniture, carpet, drapes, etc. — and making them harder to ignite. The spray also cools the immediate area, lessening the risk of heat-related structural damage.

Finally, the opening of the water valve and its immediate and forceful disruption can reduce the fire and limit its spread. The pressure from the sprinkler heads in fire-affected areas knocks down flames and disrupts combustion.

3. Supply and The Piping System

A fire suppression system uses a series of pipes directly connected to municipal water lines or dedicated water tanks to ensure an adequate water supply. Some systems may require fire pumps to ensure proper pressure throughout the lines.

Contributing to how fire sprinklers work, your building likely has three types of control valves: main riser, zone control, and inspector test valves. The main riser valve controls the entire water supply to the system. Zone control valves divide the system into sections, allowing for targeted water flow. Finally, the inspector test valve provides an access point for the inspector to test water flow and monitor specific sections of the system.

Beyond the valves, you have the pipes themselves. Historically, fire suppression pipes were steel, but now it is more common to find other materials, like CPVC. The sizing of the pipes matters because it plays directly into flow and pressure measurements, ensuring proper and ongoing fire suppression support.

Pervasive Myths About Fire How Fire Sprinklers Work

1. All Sprinklers Activate at Once

Many property owners worry about the damage risks associated with fire sprinklers, especially with the persistent myth that all fire sprinklers activate simultaneously. In a typical system, only the sprinkler heads directly exposed to the heat of the fire activate. Therefore, a standard fire suppression system restricts any potential damage to only fire and extreme heat-affected areas of the building.

Hollywood is the primary culprit of this myth, often depicting entire sprinkler systems going off simultaneously. The misrepresentation creates a false impression in the public mindset, making property owners reluctant, though legally obligated, to install and maintain the systems.

While most systems do not allow a simultaneous release throughout the system, the deluge system is a unique exception. Deluge fire suppression systems simultaneously release water or chemicals from all sprinkler heads, but these systems rarely appear in apartments and most commercial buildings. The systems are more common in high-hazard environments.

2. Smoke Triggers Fire Sprinklers

People often conflate or associate fire alarms with fire sprinklers. Fire or smoke alarms respond to smoke in the building, but that is not how fire sprinklers work. Fire sprinklers are purely heat-activated devices; smoke does not trigger any reaction. The sprinkler heads use heat-sensitive elements that melt or shatter when temperatures reach a specific temperature, opening the valve and applying water to the heat source or fire.

Sprinklers will not discharge water for factors like steam, cooking smoke, or other airborne particles. The fact the devices only react to excess heat is why they are reliable indicators of a fire’s location and how they reduce the risk of unwanted water damage to the property.

3. Sprinklers Cause More Damage Than a Fire

The myth that fire sprinklers cause more damage than a fire likely stems from the previous myths that all sprinklers activate simultaneously and smoke can trigger a water response. The real, rapid, and isolated response of fire sprinklers helps reduce fire, water, and smoke damage to property. Because suppression systems target fires, they usually tamp down or put them out in the early stages, reducing the need for water-heavy rescues from emergency responders.

How Fire Sprinklers Work: The Life-Saving Process

Fire sprinklers work by using an engineered approach to target only fire and heat-affected areas of your building, dousing flames and cooling materials and structures. However, the system only works when maintenance and inspections follow predictable patterns and routines. On average, your fire suppression system requires an annual inspection. Contact Sanitary Plumbing to learn more about inspection requirements and ask about our annual service contracts.

Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with We may collect and store the following personal information:

  • Name, email, address, telephone number, and (depending on the service used), move-in dates;
  • Transactional information (such as lease terms, lease parties);
  • Computer sign-on data, statistics on page views, and traffic to and from the Website; and
  • Other information, including IP address and other web log information.

3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

  • Improve our services and the Website’s content and layout;
  • Provide the services and necessary customer support you request;
  • Resolve disputes, collect fees, and troubleshoot problems;
  • Track and record customer satisfaction with our services;
  • Protect the Company against error and fraud;
  • Inform you of special promotions and announcements;
  • Enforce our agreements, terms, conditions, and policies; and
  • As otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

4. Links to Other Sites.

The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

5. Safety & Security Precautions.

The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Antler Pump & Motor Corporation, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

6. Opt-Out.

The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Antler Pump & Motor Corporation. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

7. Account Protection.

Your password ensures the security of your account. When choosing a password, the Company suggests using various characters. It is highly recommended that you do not disclose your password to anyone. (If you do disclose your password or your personal information with others, you are responsible for all actions taken in the name of your account.) If the security of your password is compromised for any reason, please contact the Company immediately.

8. Accuracy of Information

The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

9. Cookies

The Company may place a small cookie on your computer’s hard drive. This allows us to personalize your use on the Website. In order to maximize the functionality and usability of the Website, you must set your browser’s preferences to allow both permanent and temporary cookies.

10. Changing Your Personal Information.

Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

11. Third Parties

This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: