History of fire sprinkler systems

History of the Sprinkler 

What is an automatic fire sprinkler system, it is a fire-fighting system designed to be operated by the fire itself so a as to dispense water in the areas where it is needed to ensue rapid suppression of the fire with the minimum of damage to property. The salient feature of the system is an adequate water supply which may be pumped through a range of supply pipes, usually at ceiling level, to a series of heat sensitive 'sprinklers' which are designed to respond to the thermal conditions created by the fire. 

Therefore, only the fire sprinklers which have been affected by the fire will be operated and will allow water to flow from them and distributed in the form of a water spay onto the fire below. Each sprinkler is intended to cover up to about 12m2 for normal risks commercial risks such as Schools or Shopping Centres.  Fire sprinkler system, while simple in principle have been developed using a vast amount of ingenuity and experience over a period of more than 100 years in order that it may respond rapidly and reliably to fire conditions while being relatively free from faulty operation.

History of fire sprinkler systems 1881-1888


The story of the intruction to england of the Attomatic Sprinkler as written by John Wormald in December 1923

Although the story of the invention and development of the Automatic Sprinkler as a fire-fighting device has so often been told, more particularly on the other side of the Atlantic, few people realise that it was, after all, a British invention.  It was an Englishman - John Carey - who in 1806 conceived the idea of a heat-operated devise by means of which water was distributed through a system of perforated pipes to extinguish a fire.   In 1864 Major Stewart Harrison of the 1st Engineer (London) Volunteers, gave to the world the first Automatic Sprinkler Head, his design being as a matter of fact superior to many that followed it.  But, as so often happens, it was not to the country of its birth that this epoch-making invention owed its practical development, and it is to Henry Parmelee, of Newhaven, Conn., and Frederick Grinnell, of Providence, R.I., that the credit must be awarded for giving to the Automatic Sprinkler its practical application and laying the foundation of what is now a worldwide industry.

Hydraulic Graph Paper and other useful stuff

You will find a collection of documents which you can download and use which will be useful for fire protection engineers.  If you would like to see something added, then please get in touch and we will see if we can help.


BS9251 : 2014 - Square law graduation graph

BS 9251 : 2014, Annex C.5 ‘Maximum flow demand calculations’ require the tank size to be calculated using the most favourable demand point which is then intersected with the pump curve to find the maximum flow demand for the system which is often referred to as Qmax.  By multiplying the Qmax by the system minimum duration time you have the required effective capacity of the tank.

It a very simple method to find the Qmax is if you have graph paper with the x-axis (flow) scale graduated with an exponent scale of 2. This is commonly known as square law graduation graph or paper     

Square law graduation graph paper

We have a number of different graphs papers with various scales for you to download and use:

Scale: 2 Bar - 100 L/min: pdfBS9251-100-2-sqare-law-paper-s.pdf59.29 KB
Scale: 3 Bar - 150 L/min: pdfSquare law graduation graph paper – 3 Bar & 150 L/min
Scale: 5 Bar - 500 L/min: pdfBS9251-300-5-sqare-law-paper-s.pdf51.84 KB


Isometric Graph Paper

Isometric graph paper can be useful for the fire protection engineer to draw out complex pipe networks or just to detail a small section of a design and it's surprising when you do it what you may have missed when drawing it in 2D.  We also find it useful to use when entering pipe data into FHC as you are typically converting a 2D CAD drawing into a 3D hydraulic model.  Once you have used isometric graph paper you will find a thousand uses for it.

Isometric graph paper A4 5mm

The isometric graph paper which we offer below will printer out on to A4 paper with 5mm separations.

pdfA4-Isometric-paper-s.pdf71.93 KB


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