home > Sprinklers for your home? > How do sprinkers work

Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition

A video demonstrating how fire sprinklers work from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition

A 5 minute video demonstrating the operation of a residential sprinkler in a real fire from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

Video Demonstration

What Is A Sprinkler System?

A sprinkler system is integrated system of piping, connected to a water supply, with listed sprinklers that automatically initiate water discharge over a fire area. Where required, the sprinkler system also includes a control valve and a device for activating an alarm when the system operates.

How Do Sprinklers Work To Save Lives?

Each sprinkler has its own individual heat sensitive element whose only job is to detect a fixed temperature of approximately 68°C/155°F. These heat elements are not affected by smoke, but by heat only. As the temperature reaches a fixed temperature of approximately 68°C/155°F the sprinkler element is activated. The element used in this sprinkler, for example is a glass bulb filled with a fluid consisting of a non-toxic proprietary glycerin solution.

As the fluid is heated it expands and shatters the glass bulb enclosure. Sprinklers are extremely reliable and do not activate without heat and only the sprinkler closest to the fire will operate, thus the phrase “One-At-A-Time Activation”.

Cross Section of a House

(Water is piped to each sprinkler head from your primary water supply.)