For centuries water has been used to extinguish fires. The inexpensiveness and availability of water are the primary factors leading to its widespread use.
Most municipalities are willing to incur the higher cost for installing larger distribution system infrastructure because of the reduction in life and property loss that is possible by using the water system for fire protection. Water in sufficient quantity can cool the fire; the steam can deprive the fire of oxygen and in the case of miscible or dense fluids, water can disperse the fuel.
Supplying water for fire sprinkler protection is a valuable service provided by many water utilities in North America. As service areas grow, fire risks usually increase and place a greater burden on communities to protect human life and property. Most water utilities design additional capacity into their distribution system to ensure that large volume flows and adequate pressures are available to inundate fires. In recent decades, fire risks have been reduced through improvements in building materials and designs, and the use of fire alarm systems and internal fire sprinkler systems. Although residential fire sprinkler systems (RFSS) are less common than commercial and industrial systems, their use is growing. RFSS offer effective life safety protection in residential occupancies, including smaller dwellings, where delayed fire department response times can increase of loss of life.
This guidance document provides information to help water utilities understand the purpose and features of RFSS, and guide them in setting their own policies and procedures for the design, installation, and operation of water distribution systems servicing customers with RFSS.
Read the report.