How Are Sprinkler Systems Designed?
Sprinkler systems are undoubtedly one of the most effective forms of fire protection today. They’re becoming increasingly popular, and are now used across many different locations and building types.
Sprinkler systems can be seen almost everywhere. From residential properties and apartment blocks to multi-unit commercial buildings, single stores, schools, hospitals, and hotels… they’re all around us.
This means that there can’t ever be such a thing as a ‘standard’ sprinkler system.
Each and every sprinkler system must be designed in line with the unique requirements and characteristics of a building. These include its size, layout, occupancy, and identified fire risks.
Design considerations for sprinkler systems
At Eversafe, we’re Level 1 Loss Prevention Council Certified Commercial Sprinkler Installers. This means that, in addition to sprinkler installation, we’re also qualified to design sprinkler systems.
Some of the elements that we need to consider when designing systems include:
- Position of sprinkler heads
- Degree of water coverage
- Ceiling weight loads
- Obstacles such as lighting, wiring, and overhead features
- Size of valves and fittings
- Pipe routes (in much the same way as for dry & wet risers)
- Pipe diameter
- Pipe materials
There’s a lot to consider to ensure each system can operate optimally within the intended structure.
The design process
The sprinkler system design process usually begins in earnest when detailed drawings of a building are provided. This enables designers like Eversafe to create plans that achieve four distinct things:
- Comply with the best practices laid out in BS9251 (British Standard for Fire Sprinklers)
- Comply with the best practices laid out in BS EN 12845 (Standard for Automatic Sprinkler Systems)
- Comply with manufacturer’s recommendations
- Comply with the individual needs and layout of the building in question
However, there is one major challenge when designing sprinkler systems. This is that there can be a significant difference between how a design aligns with a building on paper, and how it aligns in the real world. At Eversafe Fire Protection, we’re addressing this challenge head-on through BIM.
What is BIM?
BIM is short for Building Information Modelling. It refers to 3D renderings that enable designers, architects, facilities managers, and every stakeholder to better visualise a potential installation.
Using BIM, sprinkler system designs can be visualised in relation to the broader building and the wider structural ecosystem. This allows for designs to be easily translated from 2D paper drawings into embedded 3D installations, creating a vital link between mockup and real-life application.
Building Information Modelling is the future of sprinkler system design. It enables designers like us to gain deeper insight into the individual characteristics of a building and make informed design decisions. Ultimately, BIM is what ensures every design will perform as expected in an emergency.
Why settle for second best?
There’s an obvious issue with sprinkler systems: even though they can be tested, their performance in a real-life emergency is never actually seen until one happens. And so you can’t settle for second best. You can’t settle for something that simply looks like it’ll do the job on paper.
Sprinkler systems save lives. Sprinkler systems save livelihoods. They must be designed using the most effective techniques. And that’s where BIM comes in.