The History of Automatic Sprinkler Protection
Part 4 – Frederick Grinnell
Frederick Grinnell was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In 1855, he graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Earlier in his career, he was draftsman, construction engineer, and manager for various railroad manufacturers. He designed and oversaw construction of more than 100 locomotives.
Frederick Grinnell’s career in fire protection began at the age of 33 with his purchase of the Providence Steam and Gas Pipe Company. In the early days the company started in fire protection installing perforated piping systems, one of the first to do so. Grinnell took out a large number of patents. Under him the company became the leading fire protection company in the country. Many of the installation rules can be traced back to this company.
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Fire sprinklers have been used in the protection of many business establishments. But lately these fire protection systems have also gained popularity among home builders and home buyers alike. So what leads people to install fire sprinklers in their residences even if they have already installed smoke alarms? It is because smoke alarms merely alert occupants to a spreading fire in the house, but these devices cannot suppress it. Fire sprinklers on the other hand have proven to be very effective in controlling a fire and protecting people from its associated dangers.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were about 396,000 residential fires during 2005 in the United States. These fires had caused 3,055 civilian fire fatalities, 13, 825 civilian fire physical injuries, and $6.9 billion in property losses.
Studies conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s United States Fire Administration show that thousands of lives could have been saved if residential fire sprinklers had been installed in those burned homes. The installation of a fire sprinkler system could have also prevented most of the fire related injuries and substantially reduced property damage.
Residential fire sprinklers are therefore very beneficial to both people’s lives and properties. The advantages of these fire protection systems are further detailed below:
With the harsh winter many areas of the country are suffering from lower than normal temperatures making the protection of their fire protection systems from freezing more of an issue. As stated in NFPA 13
220.127.116.11.1 Unless the requirements of 18.104.22.168.2 are met, where portions of systems are subject to freezing and temperatures cannot reliably be maintained at or above 40°F (4°C), sprinklers shall be installed as a dry pipe or preaction system.
22.214.171.124.2 allows the use of antifreeze systems in small areas in lieu of dry pipe or preaction systems. As NFPA does not define small areas with a specific number the size is usually up to the contractor to determine due to the cost of the system verses a dry pipe system. Also the local building codes may specify and the Authority Having Juristiction (AHJ) may have input as to area and size limitations. In Florida we use NFPA 1 and it has no specifics on size limitations.
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