5 Different Types Of Fire Sprinkler System For Your Safety

Types of fire sprinkler system

Types of fire sprinkler systems include wet pipe systems, pre-action systems, dry pipe systems, deluge systems, and foam water systems. Each system has specific applications and advantages in providing effective fire protection for various settings and hazards.

Join me as I guide you into the diverse array of fire sprinkler systems, uncovering their characteristics and applications in safeguarding your environments.

Different Types Of Sprinkler Systems

There are several variations available for sprinkler systems. Let’s discuss the most common and effective 5 types of systems:

Wet Pipe Sprinkler System

The wet pipe sprinkler system is one of the most common and straightforward types used in buildings. In this system, pipes are filled with pressurized water at all times, ready to respond immediately when a fire is detected. 

When the sprinkler head’s heat-sensitive element reaches a specific temperature, it opens, allowing water to flow and extinguish the fire. Wet pipe systems are simple, cost-effective, and reliable, making them suitable for a wide range of applications, including residential, commercial, and industrial settings.

Dry Pipe Sprinkler System

Dry pipe sprinkler systems are ideal for environments where freezing temperatures can occur, such as unheated spaces or cold climates. Unlike wet pipe systems, the pipes in dry pipe systems are enriched with compressed air or nitrogen instead of water. 

When a sprinkler head activates due to fire, the air pressure in the pipe drops, causing a valve to open and allow water to flow. 

This system prevents water from freezing inside the pipes, ensuring its immediate availability when needed. However, the response time might be slightly slower than wet pipe systems due to the air release process.

Pre-action Sprinkler System

It is a combination of both dry and wet pipe systems, making them suitable for environments where water damage must be minimized. These systems require two steps to activate.

First, a fire detection system, such as heat or smoke sensors, must be triggered to open a valve that allows water to enter the pipes. Only after a second event, the activation of individual sprinkler heads, will the system discharge water onto the fire. 

This design reduces the likelihood of accidental water discharge, making pre-action sprinkler systems ideal for use in data centers, museums, libraries, and other areas with valuable or sensitive assets.

Deluge Sprinkler System

Deluge sprinkler systems are best suited for locations where rapid fire spread is a significant concern, such as industrial facilities dealing with flammable liquids or certain chemical processes. 

Unlike other sprinkler systems, all the sprinkler heads in a deluge system are open, and water flows through the entire system once the system is activated. These systems are connected to high-volume water supplies and can deliver a massive amount of water quickly, providing a fast response to potential fire hazards.

Foam Water Sprinkler System

The foam water sprinkler system is designed for facilities that handle flammable liquids and materials. This system combines water with a foam concentrate, producing a foam solution that covers the surface of the flammable liquid, suppressing vapors and extinguishing the fire effectively. 

Foam water systems can be implemented as either wet or dry pipe systems, depending on the specific application and environmental factors. These systems are particularly valuable in areas where water alone might not be sufficient to control fires involving combustible liquids.

A Comparison Of Different Types Of Sprinkler Systems

A Comparison Of Different Types Of Sprinkler Systems

Below are the key characteristics and applications of the five types of sprinkler systems for a comprehensive understanding of their unique features and effectiveness in fire protection.

Sprinkler SystemDescriptionActivation ProcessApplicationResponse Time
Wet Pipe SystemPipes filled with pressurized water at all timesIndividual sprinkler head heat activationResidential, Commercial, IndustrialFast
Dry Pipe SystemPipes filled with compressed air/nitrogenIndividual sprinkler head heat activationUnheated spaces, Cold climatesSlightly slower
Pre-action SystemCombines features of wet and dry pipe systemsFire detection system and sprinkler head activationData centers, Museums, LibrariesModerate
Deluge SystemAll sprinkler heads are open, water flows continuouslyFire detection system activationIndustrial facilities, High fire riskVery fast
Foam Water SystemCombines water with foam concentrate for flammable liquid firesIndividual sprinkler head heat activationFacilities with flammable liquidsFast

Which System Should You Prefer?

Each type of sprinkler system has its strengths and is suitable for specific applications. Here’s a breakdown of which system is good for what purpose:

Wet Pipe System

  • Ideal for general use in various settings, including residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.
  • Best for locations where freezing temperatures are not a concern.

Dry Pipe System

  • Suitable for environments prone to freezing temperatures, preventing water from freezing inside the pipes.
  • Often used in unheated spaces, cold climates, and areas where water-filled pipes might be at risk of freezing.

Pre-action System

  • Recommended for locations with valuable assets or sensitive equipment where accidental water discharge must be minimized.
  • Commonly deployed in data centers, museums, libraries, and places with high-value content.

Deluge System

  • Excellent for locations with high fire risks and where rapid fire spread needs to be contained immediately.
  • Used in industrial facilities dealing with flammable liquids or special hazards, providing a massive water release to control fires.

Foam Water System

  • Designed for facilities handling flammable liquids, effectively suppressing vapors and extinguishing liquid fires.
  • Suitable for areas where traditional water-based systems may not be sufficient to control flammable liquid fires.


Understanding the various types of fire sprinkler systems is crucial in tailoring effective fire protection measures. 

For insights into fire sprinkler failures, read our article on Fire Sprinkler Failures.

Each system’s distinct features cater to specific settings and fire hazards, ensuring the safety of lives and property in diverse environments.

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