Tactical Considerations for Residential Sprinkler Activations

Sprinklers in single and multi-family dwellings require several duties to take place on the fireground. Since human beings have learned to extinguish fires by using water and began to form bucket brigades to shuttle water from a water source to a...

The codes require these systems to have audible warning devices installed such as bells or horn/strobes. If a fire alarm system is present in the structure, the codes require the sprinkler system to be connected to the fire alarm system. But in both cases but the codes fall short of having system activation monitored by a 24-hour central station agency. This delay in notification can allow for fire growth and excessive water damage to the structure.

Understanding the design aspect of residential sprinkler systems is critical in attacking and controlling fires in structures utilizing these systems. Knowing where sprinklers are and are not located is critical in the positioning of initial attack crews. Coordination between system components and attack lines must be maintained to control fire advancement in these structures. Once the fire is under control, overhaul operations must include a thorough examination of voids and all unsprinklered areas affected by the fire. Sprinklers should not be shut down until all areas have been thoroughly investigated.

Fire departments must be aware of the locations that contain these systems and personnel must be trained in the operation of these systems. Once training has been conducted, pre-incident planning must take place to properly control and extinguish an incident involving an occupancy containing a residential sprinkler system.

MARK A. BROWN, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, serves as Fire Prevention Bureau Chief for the Concord, NC, Department of Fire & Life Safety. A 20-year veteran of the fire service, he is an appointed board member of the North Carolina Fire Marshal's Association and possesses an Associates Degree in Fire Protection.