3 min

How sprinkler systems reduce fire deaths by 83 percent

Fire in homes, offices, hospitals and other large buildings cause billions of euros of damage every year around the world. In the US, on average 371.700 home fires per year cause 2.600 deaths, 12.900 injuries and $7.2 billion in property damage. In the Netherlands, fire leads to the loss of €350 million worth of inventory a year. These impacts can be reduced dramatically with the help of an automatic sprinkler system.

Sprinklers reduce damage fire

An automatic sprinkler system can dramatically reduce the impact of a fire. In the Netherlands, for example, each major fire costs on average €3.5 million; for the 27 cases over the course of a year where sprinkler systems were activated, that cost was lowered by a factor of 100 to €35,000. Sprinklers are estimated to reduce fire deaths by 83 percent and cut related property damage by 69 percent.

One or two sprinklers are enough

‘Sprinklers are designed to stop fires from spreading. Almost all fires we see can be extinguished by one or two sprinklers,’ explains Kiwa’s Mathijs van Ballegooijen. ‘Fires usually start small, such as with a lit cigarette or a waste paper bin fire. At Kiwa, we work with the building owners to inspect the installation and the operation of their systems. That way we make sure they are protected from fire risk.’

Sprinklers activate automatically

Every sprinkler is connected to the system’s pipework. Each sprinkler is closed by a glass bulb filled with alcohol. The color of the bulb indicates when the sprinkler will be activated. The red bulb – the most common – breaks at a temperature of 68˚C, letting the water flow and containing the flames.